Virginia is known for their Bordeaux-style blends but do you know the science behind putting those blends in the bottle?
It's a lot of trial and error in mixing the different varietals to get that award winning blend.
I recently attended a blending seminar with the winemaker of Doukenie Winery, Sebastian. The red blend we were learning about is the 2013 vintage of the Vintner's Reserve. This special wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. These grapes are typically used in a VA, Bordeaux-style red blend.
Each table had 4 bottles of wine, each bottle was the single varietal of Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Merlot and Petit Verdot. We started by tasting each one on it's own, taking notes about each of them.
Then came the fun part of blending. We were instructed to measure out what we think the best blend would be. In beakers, we measured a percentage of each wine and blended it in a glass, marked by Trial A, B, C, etc.
After tasting each trial, we sampled the blend and took more notes on what worked and what characteristics we should add. It literally is trial and error until you think you've got a winner.
After guidance from Sebastian, he told us ranges of what he thinks he will ultimately use in the final blend, showcasing the characteristics of that particular vintage.
It was a great experience to 1) meet the winemaker and 2) learn about the science and measurement of those award-winning blends. I look forward to tasting the final 2013 product which will not be released until later in 2015.