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NorCal

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I have a great chat group of local winemakers (we use WhatsApp) where we can post little things we are doing or ask quick questions. I coined #BLENDSRULE, because of the direction my wine making has taken and whenever a discussion goes down the path of talking about blends, I will throw the #BLENDSRULE out there.

In my first years of wine making I was really strict on keeping all the varietals separate and pure. Then I learned that even commercially, the wine can contain up to 25% of other varieties it can still be called a "Cabernet Sauvignon" or a "Merlot'. A 25% blend can make any varietal almost unrecognizable, so that allowable % seems somewhat excessive. I did however find that the Cab Franc I would make every year benefited from a little (3%-7%) Petit Verdot and/or Petite Sirah. I would also take all my left overs that wouldn't fit into an even barrel/flex/carboy and throw them all together. You guessed it, I often liked the blended wine that was thrown together with little thought more than the individual wines themselves.

Last year, this year and my plan for next year is to make a blend by design. Last year and this year are both from the same grapes (Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot), but in different proportions. The French really got it right with these grapes (still want to find Malbec). As long as the blend doesn't contain too much Petit Verdot, I don't think you can make a bad blend with this combination of grapes. My hope is that these two vintages I made will both be good, but different.

Each of these varieties has a strong suit and when the right combination of these varieties come together, they complement each other and the sum is better than the individual pieces....#BLENDSRULE

The last time I made a Rhone Blend (2016) the blend was 5:1 more popular with Friends and Family than any of the individual wines that was predominately a single varietal. My plan is for a single barrel GSM blend in 2021.

2017 red labels.jpg
 

Boatboy24

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My journey started almost the same as yours - I was all about 'pure' wines. 100% anything was all I wanted to make. Even with kits, I tended toward things that were at least labeled as single varietal. Now, I'm pretty much all blend. I generally ferment and age separately, as I think many do. Last year, I did two 'single varietals', but both were field blends and contained about 16% of something else. This year, all blends, except for my Zin. But that'll be blended with Petit Sirah before bottling. ;)

Anyway, I'm with you. #BlendsRule!
 

cmason1957

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I joined the #BlendRule team a few years ago. Bought four juice buckets, the varietals are fine from memory now. Wife and I bottled them all up individually and had about the same of each left over. We blended that together, tasted it, then quickly unbottled an equal number of each, blended them, into a carboy for a bit, then rebottled. Now everything we do is a blend.
 

Venatorscribe

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Have done similarly. It adds that extra five percent magic in the bottle. I've also been playing around with various blends in my fruit wines. I absolutely agree that blending is to be encouraged
 

CDrew

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I have enjoyed the the "blender" carboy(s). All the remnants eventually get to the same place and my 2 years of blenders have been very good. I have 2 carboys of 2019 Primitivo, Syrah, and a bit of Tempranillo that I'll bottle in the next few months.

The 2018 blender Pimitivo/Syrah has turned out pretty good. I'm still at the veriatial stage, but, the left over blenders are pretty good and in many ways more fun, since you blend in February and bottle in October.
 

ibglowin

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Every single wine I have made from fresh grapes (going back to 2009) has been a blend of some sort. My first 2 wines were just Cab Sauv (6G) and Merlot (6G).
I made two blends of course. One 75%CS--25% Merlot and the other the reverse.

When I was first getting into wine I noticed right away that the majority of winemakers in WA State made a huge selection of blends and they were very proud and happy to put their proportions right their on the label or fact sheet.

I was more than happy to borrow their blending info.
 

Venatorscribe

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Every single wine I have made from fresh grapes (going back to 2009) has been a blend of some sort. My first 2 wines were just Cab Sauv (6G) and Merlot (6G).
I made two blends of course. One 75%CS--25% Merlot and the other the reverse.

When I was first getting into wine I noticed right away that the majority of winemakers in WA State made a huge selection of blends and they were very proud and happy to put their proportions right their on the label or fact sheet.

I was more than happy to borrow their blending info.
Yep I like it when they notate their blend ratios. You know that they are equally proud. I write them all down and dwell over them when designing my own arrangement
 

jburtner

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#BLENDSRULE !!!
I've moved towards making a number of single varietals and blending a couple bottlings at least and still keeping some pure. Tend to enjoy the blends more but maybe the singles just need time?

Cheers,
johann
 

Chuck E

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My first blend was 1-1/2 gallons each of Carménère & Malbec. It was clearly better than each of the wines separately.
I now add a bit of Petite Syrah to my Zinfandels.
 

mainshipfred

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I'm a huge advocate of blending and always blend after the wine has aged at least 10 months. I have to say though it's not the easiest thing for me especially if I'm blending more than 2 wine which is normally the case. The problem I have is I'll get 2 or 3 blends that I think I like but can't determine which I like best or I just can't get anything I think is exceptional in the first place. Except for an 18 Meritage I have been trying to keep 75-80% of the dominate varietal which could potentially change when I get around to blending my 19s. I have had a couple wines though that no matter what I blended with wasn't as good as the single.
 

Rocktop

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For blending, how does everyone handle oaking, without a barrel.
I have 18 Gal cab sav, 6 gal merlot and 6 gal petit Verdot that I plan to blend all together.
Would you A. blend them all together and then oak with spirals, cubes etc as you want or
B. age and oak each variety separately to get each variety to where you want it and then blend just before bottling?

Txs
RT
 

cmason1957

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For blending, how does everyone handle oaking, without a barrel.
I have 18 Gal cab sav, 6 gal merlot and 6 gal petit Verdot that I plan to blend all together.
Would you A. blend them all together and then oak with spirals, cubes etc as you want or
B. age and oak each variety separately to get each variety to where you want it and then blend just before bottling?

Txs
RT
I try to get each individual varietal to be is best prior to making the blend. That is, unless i do a field blend, but that's a whole nother thing.
 

mainshipfred

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For blending, how does everyone handle oaking, without a barrel.
I have 18 Gal cab sav, 6 gal merlot and 6 gal petit Verdot that I plan to blend all together.
Would you A. blend them all together and then oak with spirals, cubes etc as you want or
B. age and oak each variety separately to get each variety to where you want it and then blend just before bottling?

Txs
RT
If you are going to blend the full 30 gallons I don't see it making a difference either way. But if you are going to do bench trails to fine tune the blend then yes I would oak them individually.
 

balatonwine

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FWIIW: Many, many years ago (as in the last century --- seriously 1995), when touring Napa, and at Sterling, I tasted one of their Cabernet/Merlot/Cab Franc blends. And loved it over all the other wines I tasted that day. I bought a bottle. At $60 a bottle (closer to $100 in today's coin) quite an extravagance for a starving graduate student as I was at the time. I drank it some years later and it only got better.

Just a little anecdotal story... Hope you liked it.
 
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Juniper Hill

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I generally hold off blending until a couple of months before bottling. That way you can do bench trial like mentioned above. The results of blending can be really striking, and it's easy to overdo different additions. It doesn't take much Petite Sirah or Petite Verdot to dominate a blend. I assume it will be the same with Touriga Nacional - it seems like a tannic beast from my post-press tasting
 

Fencepost

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Newbie question..... Is there a "magic number" for a % of the blend? Should it be at least 25%? I see some of the comments that looks like they may be 25/25/50 or variations... I like blending my blackberry wine with grape wines... and, as every one says, seems to make it better than either one individually. Just not sure if 10% is enough to get the flavor or if it needs to be more like 25%. Just wanting some input from the "pros".
 

cmason1957

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Newbie question..... Is there a "magic number" for a % of the blend? Should it be at least 25%? I see some of the comments that looks like they may be 25/25/50 or variations... I like blending my blackberry wine with grape wines... and, as every one says, seems to make it better than either one individually. Just not sure if 10% is enough to get the flavor or if it needs to be more like 25%. Just wanting some input from the "pros".
Don't think any of us claim to be pros at this. Some might be better than others, for sure. But to answer your question, taste rules all. Sometimes it works out to 25/25/50, but more often it will be 12/3/85 and you (Plus hopefully some helpers) are the ultimate decider of what tastes best.
 

jmionno

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I have never intentionally blended before, although often when racking, will dump leftovers in a carboy. Sometimes it has worked. This year, I have in secondary fermentation 3 varieties; zinfandel, cabernet, and Muscat. Has anyone experience with blending these varieties? Ratios? Qualities of mix?
 

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