Monday, November 17, 2008

Faux Winemaker - Exercise in Blending Franciscan Wines

Sadly, my wine class through UC Berkeley extension came to an end last Thursday with the final class covering blind tasting and blending. I've surprised myself and gotten fairly decent at the former, with the instructor not even letting me guess half the time so as to not steal the thunder for the other 10 folks! Hmmmm.... But I hadn't ever tried to blend my own wine, so I was also pleasantly surprised when I ended up liking my Bordeaux blend better than Franciscan's blend, which the winer calls Magnificat.

Franciscan, who conducts blending seminars at the winery and for events, gave my instructor single bottlings of the five Bordeaux grapes as well as a couple bottles of their own Magnificat (73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc). The winery also gave him plenty of schwag, however they forgot to include the description of Magnificat, so we didn't know the particulars of their blend. However, after having it, I don't think I would have tried to copy it anyway!

Some of Franciscan's single bottlings didn't seem very true to varietal with the Merlot particularly striking me as aggressively tannic instead of the grape's usual smooth and silky nature, while the Cab Franc didn't emit those tell-tale green pepper notes but rather lots of rich clove. My blend was roughly 30% Cabernet Sauvignon (which I used for its unexpected smoothness), 22% Cabernet Franc (loved its spicey & earthy characteristics), 22% Petite Verdot (for its floral and fruit notes), 17% Merlot (added for structure due to its high acid and tannins); and 9% Malbec (for its violet perfume and silky mouthfeel).

I wish we would have had enough wine to make a bottle to take home -- or at least enough for a dozen or so tastes to share with the class, as I was quite happy with my conconction!