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The first wine I made was a field blend. It was and is my grandfather's recipe. Alicante and Muscat. My first wine making partner and I did everything wrong. (We didn't know what a hydrometer was let alone how to use it!) Unfortunately, that attempt turned out really good. If it hadn't, I could have quit, saved a ton of money, and not had to endure the frustration of trying to figure out where I went wrong.

Since then, everything I've made and ben happy (a relative term if ever there was one) with has been a blend. One of the most successful was a meritage. Wanted to imitate a Bordeaux. It was slated to be 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. The notes are currently lost and I can no longer remember what the exact ratio turned out but I know that after a tasting the blend at those numbers adjustments were made. I think the Merlot and the Cab Franc were increased against the Cab Sauv and the ratio between the Merlot and the Cab Franc changed with the Merlot decreasing.

I wonder about blending, and about why the blends are better than the varietals. Maybe it's because blending fixes or covers up flaws in the varietals or flaws in winemaking technique. On the east coast the suppliers stock mostly central valley grapes. The numbers aren't always great on them. Sometimes blending a couple of wines with just okay numbers makes a wine that is pretty darn good.

No answers here. Mostly guessing. This much I'm sure of. Blending solves problems. Sometimes it can make a silk purse out of sow's ears. Well, maybe not silk, but a really nice nylon one.
 

winemaker81

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@ibglowin posted a wine he recently had, and the blend of grapes caught my attention: 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, 2% Petite Verdot

Wow. 2% makes a difference. If this was a 5 US gallon / 19 liter batch, 2% is adding a 375 ml bottle each of Malbec and Petit Verdot.

Last fall I purchased sixteen 36 lb lugs, a total of 576 lbs of grapes. If I did a field blend of this ratio, it would have been (in lugs):

12.64 - Cabernet Sauvignon
1.44 - Merlot
1.28 - Cabernet Franc
0.32 - Malbec
0.32 - Petit Verdot
 

Clivis

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I did a virtual wine tasting with Justin Vineyards where they talked about how they made Isosceles. One of the reasons I've gotten into wine making is doing some of the virtual tastings and listening to the winemakers. Didn't know how much of it was Art instead of science.

11% Cabernet Franc, 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot
 

winemaker81

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Didn't know how much of it was Art instead of science.
As much as we try to control and/or guide the process with science, winemaking is an art. Fermentation is a natural process, and we (as a group) are good at promoting successful fermentations, but once in a while Mother Nature reminds us we are not in control.

Blending? This is totally an art. There's no formula, test, or tool that guarantees a successful blend. It's all down to the individual winemaker's experience, senses, and the quality of the wine we have to work with.

OTOH, if we could do it by the numbers, the successes we have would not be as sweet. :r

I'm adding Justin Vineyards Isosceles to the list in post #1.
 

winemaker81

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Well ... DANG! I can no longer edit post #1. Plan B - each time the previous listing post is locked, I'll start a new list in the current post, including the previous list.

Commercial Wines:
McGregor Winery - Rob Roy Blend: 8 parts Cabernet Franc, 5 parts Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 parts Merlot
San Acacia Cellars - Caballo Muerto: 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 8% Cab Cabernet 2% Malbec, 2% Petite Verdot
Justin Vineyards - Isosceles: 11% Cabernet Franc, 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot

WMT Wines:
Kraffty: 50% Zin, 20% Merlot, 20% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker81: 67% Merlot, 33% equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, & Malbec.
Winemaker81: 40% Merlot, 40% Zinfandel, 20% equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, & Malbec.
Chuck E: 50/50 Carmenere and Malbec
Chuck E: 75% Zinfandel/25% Petit Syrah
DistanceRunner: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc
Meadini: Bordeaux - 50% Cab Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Syrah
Meadini: GSM- 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Merlot.

Also, I started a post on my winemaking site where I'll also list the blends.


EDIT -- changed the list to reflect @sour_grapes's excellent idea.
 
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sour_grapes

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Well ... DANG! I can no longer edit post #1.

Plan B - each time the previous listing post is locked, I'll start a new list in the current post, and include the URLs for previous posts.

Justin Vineyards Isosceles: 11% Cabernet Franc, 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot


Previous Listing:
Post #1

Also, I started a post on my winemaking site where I'll also list the blends.
My suggestion would be that when you can no longer edit the first one, you just quote it, and add the new info to the bottom of it.
 

sour_grapes

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I did a virtual wine tasting with Justin Vineyards where they talked about how they made Isosceles. One of the reasons I've gotten into wine making is doing some of the virtual tastings and listening to the winemakers. Didn't know how much of it was Art instead of science.

11% Cabernet Franc, 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot
I would have thought that to make a wine called "Isoscoles," would have been 10% Cabernet Franc, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot! 🤣
 

Clivis

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I would have thought that to make a wine called "Isoscoles," would have been 10% Cabernet Franc, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot! 🤣
HA! My wife said the same. Apparently they started with that ratio and then have minor changes each year. Slight difference in the alcohol content each year as well.
 

sour_grapes

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I would have thought that to make a wine called "Isoscoles," would have been 10% Cabernet Franc, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot! 🤣
HA! My wife said the same. Apparently they started with that ratio and then have minor changes each year. Slight difference in the alcohol content each year as well.
Notwithstanding that this blend would, of course, violate the Cauchy-Schwarz Inequality. :)
 

JBP

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Love the math jokes. :)

On a somewhat related note the original topic - are there any issues in blending wines from kits/juice/must/grapes? While it would be wonderful to have a variety of wines from grapes to work with, I have some juice buckets that are aging after MLF that I am thinking of blending with a kit wine. Any issues or concerns? All are properly stabilized and well into carboy aging.
 

Meadini

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This year I have tried a Pinot/Syrah, Merlot/Syrah, and a Cab Sauv/Syrah. They all had a silky smooth finish that I can only assume (I know, I know) comes from the Syrah. I doubt Syrah grapes will be available in my neck of the woods, so thanks @JBP for that brilliant idea! So my plans are a Bordeaux- 50%Cab Sauv, 30%Merlot, 20%Syrah kit and a GSM- 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah kit and 25% Merlot.
 

sour_grapes

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This year I have tried a Pinot/Syrah, Merlot/Syrah, and a Cab Sauv/Syrah. They all had a silky smooth finish that I can only assume (I know, I know) comes from the Syrah. I doubt Syrah grapes will be available in my neck of the woods, so thanks @JBP for that brilliant idea! So my plans are a Bordeaux- 50%Cab Sauv, 30%Merlot, 20%Syrah kit and a GSM- 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah kit and 25% Merlot.
That all sounds good. Just as an FYI: Syrah is NOT a Bordeaux grape. Thus, your proposed Bordeaux blend is not really "a Bordeaux." Also, the "M" of "GSM" is not Merlot, it is Mourvedre (a Rhone variety).

I do not object to the blends you have planned, and they sound tasty, but you have not described them the way most winemakers/drinkers would assume.
 

Meadini

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That all sounds good. Just as an FYI: Syrah is NOT a Bordeaux grape. Thus, your proposed Bordeaux blend is not really "a Bordeaux." Also, the "M" of "GSM" is not Merlot, it is Mourvedre (a Rhone variety).

I do not object to the blends you have planned, and they sound tasty, but you have not described them the way most winemakers/drinkers would assume.
Yeah, after I posted, I realized I didn’t add the word “type” after the blends. It’s just looking like I’m not going to get all the varietals I was hoping for and this may be the closest I will be able to get.
 

winemaker81

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@Meadini, I understand about not being able to get the grapes you want. On the plus side, I've seeing wine blended from a mixture of Bordeaux and Rhone grapes, and they work well.

I've got a Bordeaux (Merlot heavy, includes all 5 Bordeaux grapes) blend I'm calling "Meritage", and a second blend that also includes Zinfandel, which I'm calling "Meritage Plus". It great that we are not constrained and can do whatever we want!
 

Jbu50

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Winemaker81: 67% merlot, 33% equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, & Malbec.
This blend is interesting. Any reason why you chose majority Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon?
 
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winemaker81

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This blend is interesting. Any reason why you chose majority Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon?
I prefer Merlot, so I'm a Right Bank drinker. 😄

Since the fall 2020 crush, my mindset has changed, as my son is directly involved in the winemaking as opposed to being labor, and my niece has bought in on the results (if she lived closer, she'd be helping). [We are a co-op -- I'm tracking costs and everyone pays for the materials for however many bottles they want. I've had folks try to buy wine from me -- I don't go there. I'll give people a bottle, but I have zero interest into going commercial.]

I formulated my blend based upon my preference for Merlot, which is also my niece's preference (this colored my thinking), plus reading about what is in Bordeaux blends. I rolled the dice, creating a field blend that fits the grapes I have access to.

In the future we may make a Cabernet Sauvignon heavy blend. My son and niece are now involved in the decision making process, although currently I'm driving things as I've a lot more experience. In future years I expect that balance to change as they gain experience and have stronger preferences, which is fine with me. I've been a loner in the winemaking arena for so long -- it's nice to have people to play with, which is probably the main reason I'm active on this forum.

As previously mentioned, this fall will be a Rhone-style blend. My son & niece are on-board with that. 2022? We have time to research, although I have a thought of doing an Italian/Spanish blend with Sangiovese, Barbera, and Tempranillo. Maybe with a bit of Bordeaux and/or Rhone grapes in the mix ...
 
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