Blending 2010

The alchemy of blending is on full display with the 2010 vintage of Virage.  I can’t wait to taste how this wine evolves now that the components have been married by the winemaking team.  Here’s a peek into the blending session…

The guys like to start early in the morning.  Long shadows stretch across the table in the beautiful private tasting room at Alpha Omega, a fine place to be working at 8:00am–quiet, cool and beautiful.  Fred is well organized; all lots are laid out and documented on our tasting sheet so we can focus on tasting and keep a clear record of each component and trial blend.

Tasting through the first seven lots, we easily agree on two clear favorites (as stand-alone wines), and since I’ve been asked by many customers to make a high-end “reserve” blend, we virtually set aside a barrel’s worth of each… Culling out best berries, best lots, and best barrels is an expensive exercise, but I understand the desire to taste the results.  I also insist that it not sacrifice the quality of our primary blend, so we also agree to a very small “reserve” production for a special-occasion wine, maybe 50 cases, leaving the remainder of the delicious lots for “the Virage.”

That done, Jean took a stab at the “Virage blend.”  First cut was a 19-barrel lot that he intuitively thought would create a solid, balanced blend in the Virage style… Fred does the careful measuring and mixing, and voila, we have 2010 Virage 1.0 to taste.  Here’s where the talent and experience plays in; with just a quick iteration, a slight tweak to the mix, all whispered in French between them so I wouldn’t know what’s happening (allowing me to taste blind), the 2010 “Virage 2.0” is in our glasses.

We all taste, and we all say, nearly in unison, near equally surprised I’m sure, “Wow, that’s better than the reserve.”

It goes to prove the magic and alchemy, and is why Jean jokes he “gets paid the big bucks.”  The most delicious merlot combined with the most aromatic and rich cabernet franc simply did not make the best blend.  And it reminds me why we blend in the first place; it’s that complex “chord” that is resonant and full, and more satisfying and engaging than any single note no matter how beautiful.

When we tasted “everything that’s left” and it made for a great by-the-glass wine for restaurants, Jean was super pleased with himself… I love both of these wines, and I’m very proud of the whole team who have created them from the growers to every caring person who has helped them along the way.

This man is betting you’ll love our wines as much as he does.  With 12 clients, here in California and in Italy, Jean commented that this is the only wine he thinks “actually tastes like a Bordeaux.”  Come visit and we’ll sneak a taste from barrel.


About Emily Richer

Investment banker turned right banker.
This entry was posted in One wild ride, Tasting, winemaking. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Blending 2010

  1. Ron Hall says:

    I just opened a bottle of your 2007 blend that was given to me as a gift and i can’t tell you what a pleasant surprise and wonderful bouquet of flavor that this wine has, congratulations on this wine and I definitely want to buy more of this but I guess the only way is through your site because I do find any of your wine sold locally. The name Virage and its meaning ” A turn in the road” couldn’t be more poignant to me at this time as well.

    • Emily says:

      Thanks Ron! I’m delighted you’re enjoying this wine. I think it’s tasting great right now. Can pop and pour and it also deepens up if decanted or left open awhile… Where do you live? It’s great shipping weather right now, but I’ll let you know if there’s a retailer in your area. You can always email me

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