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Monthly Archives: November 2015

“Bench” Trials aka Couch Tasting

Dave has been talking to me a lot lately about his thoughts on the wines he will be making this year from the grapes we were able to purchase. This year was a great year in the Texas vineyards and we were lucky enough to get our hands on two different white grapes.

For those of you following us, you may know that last year was our first foray into making wine from actual Texas grapes, as opposed to kits, and we were able to get almost a ton of Merlot from Blue Vineyards thanks to Brennan Vineyards.  That wine is still happily aging in the corner of our eat-in kitchen (well at least the wine is happy about it).  This year brought even more bounty and opportunity to us with a ton of Viognier from Bingham Family Vineyards and a ton of Roussanne from Oswald Vineyards. Both of these we were able to get thanks to our great network of friends at Lost Oak Winery and Eden Hill Winery. We are both super excited because the grapes come from two of the best growers and wines made from their grapes have often won awards and recognition for their quality. Dave plans to use these to make a wine this year that will be his first commercial product (rather than just wine made at home that we can’t sell) and produced through his working relationship at Crump Valley Vineyards.

Now when these opportunities came our way, at first I thought he might be making 2 different wines, both as just a straight varietal. But as we have started talking more with others and sampling along the process, we’ve come to the agreement that together these will make a really wonderful blend. Which leads me to Halloween night. Often during this short journey I suppose I have romanticized the craft of wine making, and thought about how fun blending and tasting would be. Perhaps I have even been a bit envious of the winemaking friends we know when they publish photos of the “hard” days at the winery, stuck in the back of the production area having to sample wine blends all day. Poor souls! HaHaHa – I only dreamed my life could be that entertaining – or so I thought.

This is what I might have imagined before we started, although we just used one glass for control and one for the testing.

This is what I might have imagined before we started, although we just used one glass for control and one for the testing.

Halloween night, after sorting candy and putting the kiddo to bed, Dave and I set about “bench trials” to determine how best to blend the Viognier and Roussanne together. I was excited as I sat on the couch, thinking that now I would be like all those others, enjoying the fruits of Dave’s labor and calling it work while I sat back, sampled, and enjoyed the rest of the evening. Dave brought me first a small glass of “control”, a straight Viognier to set my palate and identify the basic profile before blending. Then he brought a second glass with some mystery ratio of Viognier to Roussanne. I sampled, tried to break it apart, and provide Dave with some thoughts he could record for notes. Then another ratio sample, and another, and another. After sampling the controls and 9 different ratios of blending the two together, I began to think maybe this is more like work. The more we sampled the harder it got to discern the nuances of the wines, to think about what profiles were coming in each blend, what type of drinker would prefer each, etc, etc, etc. Not because I was getting light headed from the wine (lol), but because the differences sometimes can be subtle (or very distinct), and making all the notes, trying to decide what I liked best or would be the best for a general wine drinking audience was tough! All I really wanted was to find one that I could just stick with for the rest of the evening and sip along. I no longer romanticize this process, but rather have a new respect for how hard this really can be. So I apologize to all my wine maker friends who I have sarcastically mocked about their chores. Next time Dave asks, I’ll be better prepared for sure, and perhaps a bit more focused (aka less enthusiastic lol).

This is really more what I think the process felt like to me lol.

This is really more what I think the process felt like to me lol.

This image is probably more what you might see in a real winery lab, but we don't have all those "fancy" tools at home.

This image is probably more what you might see in a real winery lab, but we don’t have all those “fancy” tools at home.

Until next time friends – Cheers~

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Posted by on November 5, 2015 in Our Journey into the Texas Wine Industry

 

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