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Blending trials, a view from a newcomer.

I would have to say the most daunting thing I’ve been a part of as a newcomer to the winery is sitting and participating in the blending trials.

I had no idea what I was looking for, how many barrels we would be tasting, how tired I would be at the end of the day and what or how much I needed to write about each tasting.

In saying that, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this new learning experience.

My first blending trial was 25 barrels of Chardonnay. We would smell and taste three samples at a time. I started writing down as many characteristics as a could about each wine, and I soon learnt that wouldn’t last for all 25 barrels.

That wasn’t what this  was about.

It’s not about the finished product, as it isn’t one.

It is about looking at the base characteristics of the sample.

So, what was daunting about tasting a bunch of wine? Not the wine itself, that was delicious.

It was discussing with the owners and winemakers what characteristics I interpreted from the samples.

What if I described a sample being fruit forward and everyone else got oak.

What if I felt what I said was wrong?

I learnt through the guidance of my winemakers to trust my palate and my instincts, not to listens to my thoughts.

 After tasting all the samples the first time we went back to the ones we liked the best, and tried them again. With those samples fresh in our mind we started to craft our first wine, named after our best lady Valerie.

We work out the volume we need, add a sample representation to our measuring cylinder and try this blend. Sometimes we get a winner first time.

Other times it can be a bit more work; adding less of one barrel, more of another or using different barrels altogether.

There is no formula to use when blending wines, it’s trial and error and trusting your palates. This can lead to some very lengthy and passionate discussions/arguments, but in the end everyone comes to an agreement on the final wine.     


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