One of the fun parts of winemaking is the opportunity to put together special lots for special causes. Sometimes we put together unique blends of our own, but more and more when we are putting together barrel lots for auction, we have chosen to reach out to other producers who we admire and make blends that are truly unique: half wine from Tablas Creek and half wine from another winery.
For the Hospice du Rhone, we have made blends with L'Aventure, Austin Hope, and now Ridge. And, for the Central Coast Wine Classic, we have made blends with Qupe, L'Aventure (again), Edmunds St. John, and now, this year, with Jaffurs.
The most interesting part of this process comes when the two wineries come together to taste through each others cellars and decide what of all these choices will end up going together into the cuvee. Earlier this week, Craig Jaffurs arrived at Tablas Creek, samples in hand, to begin the process.
Craig brought three different single-vineyard Syrah samples from the great 2005 vintage: a bottle each of the Bien Nacido, Thompson, and Larner vineyards. Each was excellent on its own, with the Bien Nacido showing dark spice, robust tannin and mineral, the Larner sweet, rich blue/black fruit and appealing spice, and Thompson sort of splitting the difference, with dark, dusty fruit, good mineral, and moderate tannins.
After tasting through the Tablas Creek cellar, we decided it might be fun to pair one of these Santa Barbara County syrahs with a Tablas Creek grenache lot. 2005 was the first year we felt we really got grenache to a point where it could stand on its own, and we have lots of great lots in the cellar.
In the blending, it became clear that with the Tablas grenache, which has lots of fruit (grape, boysenberry) and sweet spice (licorice), the best match was the darker, more structured Bien Nacido vineyard lot. So, we were close. The only thing that we felt the blend lacked was a bit of gracefulness... both lots were so intense that the cuvee was a little too dominant. The solution (as we often find in our own blending)? Counoise, with its nice fruit, moderate body and bright acidity! Adding 4% Counoise to the blend rounded everything out, and we ended up very excited about the result. So, at the Central Coast Wine Classic auction on July 15th, we'll have a treat for everyone.