As some of you might know, I am trying to be a winemaker. No, I don’t have carboys set up in the garage, and no I’m not living in the lap of luxury in Sonoma. I am lucky enough to live in a city that has it’s own community custom crush facility, Crushpad.
I am part of a winemaking crew where I am making a Dry Creek zinfandel with a group of people, which is one of the great services Crushpad offers. We were blending our finished zin with a variety of components, and we were able to decide how we wanted our finished product to come out. Initially, we tried the control sample of our 2007 Grist Vineyard Zinfandel, which is a jammy, bright, and powerful zin. Then, we tried a control sample of some petite sirah. Once we tasted the components, we were able to think about what proportion of Petite Sirah we wanted to add to our zin, which we were hoping would add some depth of flavor, as well as a little backbone.
First, we tried a 5% Petite Sirah and 95% Zinfandel blend. We all agreed that this was too much, as the Petite overpowered the subtlety of the zinfandel and we lost it’s character. Then, our consulting winemaker Kian Tavakol suggested we try a different Zinfandel. This zin was from the Beatty Ranch on Howell Mountain in Napa. This vineyard is at 1800 feet and offers a completely different experience from Dry Creek. These wines have a deeper black fruit and chocolate overtone, which is absolutely amazing. I had a sample side by side with the Grist, and while totally different, they were both amazing.
Now that we had tried the control samples, a 5% blend, and a new zinfandel, we mixed it up by adding some of the Beatty Ranch zin to the mix. Kian guided us to do a 2.5% Beatty Ranch Zin, 2.5% Petite Sirah, and 95% Grist Zin blend, which allowed us to keep our vineyard designate on the label. We also tried another blend, which had a bit less Petite Sirah, but no Beatty zin. The first test was not blind, and we were having a hard time deciding what we liked most. Initially we were set on keeping the Beatty out of it, but then Kian played a trick on us. He sent us out of the room, and presented the blends to us again, but this time blind.
When we came back in the room and tasted the wines again, we still loved them. However, being blind, we had no idea which wine was what. Most of us were completely convinced that sample B was our Dry Creek zin with no Beatty. We were fooled, but we knew that sample B was our favorite. It turns out, this was the 2.5% PS / 2.5% Beatty / 95% Grist! We were all very happy with our final blend, and left Crushpad feeling giddy with delight that our zin would be bottled in a month, for us to take home and admire.
If you would like to blend you own wine at home, check out Fusebox, a custom wine blending kit in a box!