Our First TWC Blending Session Is in the Books!
Ten years ago, if you’d told me that I’d be pouring wine in a Texas wine tasting room, I would have laughed. It just wasn’t on my radar back then. And if you’d then told me that I’d actually be making wine, I would have considered you nuts. But that’s exactly what I found myself doing just this morning.
As we move forward with our name change this month, the Texas Wine Collective’s “Wine Making Committee” held its first-ever meeting. Our committee included GM Dave; our tasting room managers Beth, Amber, and Valerie; and Martin, Chuck, Dr. Carl, Stacey, and myself. Our goals? To develop a new experience for our club members and customers and to begin to create a new brand of wine that will be all our own. The results? A fun and educational blending session that ended with a red blend that the committee agreed is “magnum-worthy."
So how did we get there? We began by first tasting about a dozen red wines, all 100% varietals, most of which had been produced by Brennan Vineyards or Lost Oak Winery. For comparison purposes, we tried wines from a couple of other Texas sources as well.
After discussing which wines we preferred (based on aroma, taste, and mouthfeel), we each used a pipette to blend the varietals we thought would work best together. Our shared goal was a big, bold, dry red that Texans can enjoy at a cookout, while watching a game, or during a fancy meal. This took precision (and quite a bit of math) as we each needed to keep track of the percentage of each varietal in the blends we made. Thank goodness for calculators!
This process required a good deal of trial and error, too, and I learned a lot by listening to my teammates’ successes (and failures). As we passed our new blends around the table, we each honed our use of the varietals and their percentages. My first blend of Cabernet Franc and two Cabernet Sauvignons was great on the nose but pretty lousy on the palate. I had played it safe by going with 1/3 of each varietal before realizing that blending should be more nuanced.
For my second blend, I began with Merlot as the base grape, incorporating 40% of it. I then added 20% each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, and Malbec. I deemed this worthy of sharing with the others and poured the blend into a beaker to be passed around the table later. I then tried a third blend that maintained Merlot as the base and incorporated Petit Syrah instead of Malbec. I set it aside thinking I needed to give my nose and palate a break for a moment.
Once we’d each had a chance to create a few blends (this took several minutes during which we worked in near silence…so much concentration!), we narrowed them down to a couple of committee favorites. Turns out, my second blend was very similar to one that Amber had created and liked. GM Dave combined our two blends on paper and gave the varietals and percentages to Carl who then created the final blend. We all agreed it would work well as our first in-house wine. When ready, this red blend will be available as a magnum (the equivalent of two standard bottles of wine), and though we’ve already selected its name, you’ll have to wait to find out that little tidbit.
How lucky am I that I get to spend a morning at work and with colleagues I enjoy tasting and creating wine? I can’t wait to do it again! And this is just the kind of experience we’re working to develop for our members and guests as we roll out the Texas Wine Collective. So be on the lookout for new experiences and wines that you won’t want to miss. Exciting times, these!