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2020 Crush and Blends

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Donz

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It's that exciting time of year again. So who is making what this season? I will be doing my first white, Sauvignon Blanc. Reds are looking like potentially a Grenache - any suggestions on what to blend with Grenache? My first thoughts are Carignan and Syrah. Also maybe a Merlot dominant blend this year with Petit Syrah. Any blending suggestions with these 2 are welcome!
 

NorCal

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Mourvedre and Syrah go well with Grenache (my plan for next year). If you want to retain some Merlot characteristics, I would be cautious to add any more than 10% Petite Sirah. My experience is that PS will dominate a lighter varietal wine pretty quickly. Instead of the PS, add some Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Malbec or maybe a little Petit Verdot and it is hard to find a bad combination.
 

Boatboy24

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I like a Cab Franc/Merlot blend. They are both good on their own, but also play very well with each other.
 

Cynewulf

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I’m actually doing a Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah blend this year. My tastes tend toward the old world and I recently had a bottle from Fitou in Languedoc with this blend that was delicious:
3582E10B-A76A-471F-87F4-9B7574448A70.jpeg
 
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Donz

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I’m actually doing a Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah blend this year. My tastes tastes tend toward the old world and I recently had a bottle from Fitou in Languedoc with this blend that was delicious:
View attachment 65995
Very nice! Thinking of doing the same.
 

Donz

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Mourvedre and Syrah go well with Grenache (my plan for next year). If you want to retain some Merlot characteristics, I would be cautious to add any more than 10% Petite Sirah. My experience is that PS will dominate a lighter varietal wine pretty quickly. Instead of the PS, add some Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Malbec or maybe a little Petit Verdot and it is hard to find a bad combination.
Yes I agree 100% about the petit sirah... You cannot put a large percentage as it just dominates. Small amounts 5-7% are ideal.
 

AaronSC

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Hi all,
I just moved to the foothills area in CA (Amador county) in the early spring. I'm planning on making 9 base varietals, which will go into multiple, as-of-yet undetermined blends. I'm getting 400lbs of each of barbera, tempranillo, Viognier, Mourvèdre, and zinfandel (all from Shake Ridge Ranch about a mile from my house), Cab. Franc and Malbec (both from Slate Creek Farm in Fiddletown) and Grenache Blanc and Muscat from Hawk Creek Vineyard in Somerset.

I definitely have a lot of ideas for blends -so far the Barbera, Viognier and Tempranillo are fermenting. 1/3 of the Barbera is being done as a rose. Each (non-rose) varietal is fermented with two different yeasts to add complexity to the blending stock.

Malbec and Cab. Franc are a natural blend. I'm also thinking Mourvedre (body, tannin, earth), Zinfandel (fruit) and Barbera (acid and color) would be a nice blend tooo.

Any thoughts?
 

MiBor

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This year the selection of red California grapes that we can get in SE Michigan is limited. From the list of the varietals I could buy, I chose a Sangiovese/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon combo for a Super Tuscan blend. I'm also a little concerned about smoke taint, with all the wild fires raging in California this season. I'll raise the question but I don't think I'll get an answer. Smoke is really hard to test for and since we don't know anything about the grower-broker-distributor chain, we're stuck with buying whatever grapes make it here. I'm crossing my fingers hoping that's not something I'll have to deal with.
I also looked at some local grapes but I don't think they're worth my effort. I'm really not a fan of red hybrids and never tasted a really good wine made out of any of them.
 

MiBor

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To be fair, there is not a single question in your post. What is it that you wanted to ask?
I apologize for the ambiguity. I wrote that post in a hurry, right before leaving work. What I had in mind was to ask if anyone knows the extent of the smoke taint problem with California grapes and what regions were most affected. I was thinking that some forum members who work in the industry may have some info they can share.
Meanwhile I emailed the store owner where I'm buying grapes and he responded that their grapes come from the Central Valley near Lodi and Sierra Foothills and that zone doesn't appear to be affected by smoke.
 

AaronSC

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I haven't experienced in smoke taint in the grapes from the foothills this year -the fires are actually hundreds of miles away and while the smoke is not good to breathe it hasn't't seemed to impacted the grapes I have gotten. Lodi's in the same boat so far.

-Aaron
 

jgmann67

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I’ll be doing a Sangio/Cab/Merlot blend and a stand alone Malbec. Distributor indicated that the yields are down this year, but the quality is still very good.
 

Ajmassa

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Spoke with my supplier about this smoke issue as well. They actually have been affected and Pinot Noir that was sourced from Anderson Valley AVA are no longer available.
I view it as a good thing though. Rather than sell flawed product they chose to scrap it altogether. Hopefully this is the standard procedure and not the exception. At the time of the convo I was told they were actively seeking out another Pinot to fulfill the Anderson Pinot orders
 

AaronSC

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Here's my crush update so far.
Amador (Shake Ridge) Tempranillo .6 TA, 23.5 Brix 3.8 pH (before fermentation/4.1 after (adding tartaric) (all 400lbs red)
Fiddletown (Slate Creek) Malbec .57 TA, 24 Brix 3.9 pH (adding tartaric) (starting ferment 266 lbs red/133 lbs rose))
Amador (Shake Ridge) Barbera .8 TA, 25 Brix 3.2 pH (done ferment 266 lbs red/133 lbs rose)
Amador (Shake Ridge) Viognier .6 TA, 25 Brix 3.6 pH (adding tartaric) (almost done ferment, 400 dry white)
Fiddletown (Slate Creek) Cab Franc .6 TA, 25 Brix 3.6 pH (just starting ferment 400lbs dry red)
Saturday I'm picking up 400lbs Zinfandel and 400lbs Mourvedre both at Shake Ridge Ranch in Amador (it's about a mile from my house).

This is my first time making wine in California. All the varietals except Cab. Franc are new to me. The Franc I got from Slate Creek was beautiful (they are down the world's worst dirt road from my house...). The smell reminded me of wine making in the Finger Lakes with the wonderful aroma of freshly picked Franc -it's almost like cut cedar trees or black pepper -not like a grape smell at all. The Malbec was totally new to be so everything was discovery. The folks I bought them from were downplaying the Franc and talking all about the Malbec. These grapes seemed totally neutral to me, and other than being very dark and juicy (that's why I used a bunch in a rosé) I didn't get it. Once they started fermenting I got it -they really filled the room with blackberries and flowers -really amazing! If I can capture just a bit of these amazing smells in the final wine I'll be happy. BTW, I understand now why the Malbec family is referred to as "Fer" ("Iron") in France. I have a nice manual crusher/stemmer and I thought "why would anyone need a motorized one?" until I had to process the Malbec -iron indeed...

Tempranillo is a learning experience too. It never really had any interesting aromas, either as grapes or in fermentation. What it has in spades is tannin -wow! I can see why so many blends are based on this grape. On it's own it could be over-powering and under-whelming, but it has such structure and backbone that it will make for a great core to a blend for long aging. The winery that runs the vineyard (Yorba) doesn't generally release their Tempranillo for 8 years or so, and I can see why (don't think I will have that kind of patience).

My favorite so far has been Barbera. The winegrower contacted me last weekend with the option of getting it when it was "bright crunchy and juicy" or wait until the acids died down a bit more. Very glad I opted for the earlier harvest -the grapes were beautiful and such a deep bright purple and zippy taste. Even punching down the cap the grapes seemed to be bursting with energy. I'm having a glass of rose that I pulled for testing and it's already tasting pretty good, for a 1 week old wine. The rest is broken into two separate cuvées, one as an early maturing, Italian style old school red with no MLF and a yeast to enhance the fruit. The other is being fermented with a yeast to accentuate the body and mouthfeel and destined to add life and color to my other blends.

Oh, long message -shutting up now... :)
 

winemaker81

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Last fall I purchased 5 lugs each of Malbec, Merlot, and Zinfandel. It was fun, but having 3 batches (plus 2 second run batches) going made for some challenges with topup and containers. I have nearly 30 airlocks and had most in use at one time. Early on I stopped worrying about "purity" and used the smallest containers to topup whatever needed topping up.

I learned a lesson from this, so I have ordered a variety of mostly Bordeaux grapes to make a Merlot-heavy Bordeaux blend. Since I won't be making enough of any of the supporting grapes to make a carboy, I'm taking my chances and going with a field blend. My order is 8 lugs Merlot and 1 lug each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. I intended to buy 12 lugs of Merlot, at the last moment substituted 4 lugs of an old vine Zinfandel.

The Merlot and Zinfandel are the same vineyards as last fall, and both came out fantastic. I'm still debating if I made a good decision.

The plan is to ferment in 4 batches -- 2 Merlot, 1 Zin, and 1 everything else, and blend after fermentation is complete. I'm leaning towards keeping the Zinfandel separate until the spring, then see if it blends.

Plus I'll do a second run from the pomace. Last fall I blended all 3 and am extremely pleased with the result.
 

TemperanceOwl

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Last fall I purchased 5 lugs each of Malbec, Merlot, and Zinfandel. It was fun, but having 3 batches (plus 2 second run batches) going made for some challenges with topup and containers. I have nearly 30 airlocks and had most in use at one time. Early on I stopped worrying about "purity" and used the smallest containers to topup whatever needed topping up.

I learned a lesson from this, so I have ordered a variety of mostly Bordeaux grapes to make a Merlot-heavy Bordeaux blend. Since I won't be making enough of any of the supporting grapes to make a carboy, I'm taking my chances and going with a field blend. My order is 8 lugs Merlot and 1 lug each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. I intended to buy 12 lugs of Merlot, at the last moment substituted 4 lugs of an old vine Zinfandel.

The Merlot and Zinfandel are the same vineyards as last fall, and both came out fantastic. I'm still debating if I made a good decision.

The plan is to ferment in 4 batches -- 2 Merlot, 1 Zin, and 1 everything else, and blend after fermentation is complete. I'm leaning towards keeping the Zinfandel separate until the spring, then see if it blends.

Plus I'll do a second run from the pomace. Last fall I blended all 3 and am extremely pleased with the result.
Mind if I ask who your supplier is? I’m in NE Tennessee and haven’t been able to find many options for getting California grapes without paying as much in shipping as for the grapes. Do you receive them uncrushed, or crushed and frozen? I need them crushed and frozen.
Thanks!
I’d love to try a Zin!
 

winemaker81

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Mind if I ask who your supplier is?
Musto

Note that my group gets a good price as we get a large shipment -- last year our total shipment was over 6 US tons of fresh grapes plus a 55 gallon barrel of juice. I purchased 15 lugs (540 lbs) and upped it to 16 this year.

Our coordinator has a crusher so we unload the truck one day, and everyone who needs crushing meets the next day. I have a large press (bought it used on Facebook marketplace (or whatever it's called) so I press on my own.

Check out their site and see if anything works for you.
 

TemperanceOwl

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Musto

Note that my group gets a good price as we get a large shipment -- last year our total shipment was over 6 US tons of fresh grapes plus a 55 gallon barrel of juice. I purchased 15 lugs (540 lbs) and upped it to 16 this year.

Our coordinator has a crusher so we unload the truck one day, and everyone who needs crushing meets the next day. I have a large press (bought it used on Facebook marketplace (or whatever it's called) so I press on my own.

Check out their site and see if anything works for you.
Thanks for the tip and info.
 
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