Rudy on Blending
Blending is the art of building great wines out of individual pieces. When wines have finished fermenting, around November and December, they are usually too young to evaluate. The wine is often too cloud, spritzy, and lacks the aromas we associate with fine wine. Therefore I let them age in French oak barrels for some time before evaluating them. During this initial aging time the wines are racked every 4 months. This removes the natural sediment and clears up the wine. This process also introduces oxygen into the young wines, which help them mature and develop.
Between the second racking in April or May, and the third racking in July or August, I begin assembling the individual blends. To do this I:
1) Taste a representative sample of each lot to decide on the overall quality of that lot
2) Look at sales trends and decide what we want to bottle in terms of quantities
3) Evaluate if we have enough quality wine to make that amount of cases
Given the parameters of numbers two and three, I start the blending process. The first wine I make is the Reserve. The Reserve is made of the best lots available, and thus gets its choice of components. Then I blend the Cartel Selection. The Cartel selection is a unique wine each year, and is usually made from small lots, for which we have very little available. The next step is to determine the best of each vineyard and create the Single Vineyard wines. The last part is to craft the Diamond Mountain District blend.
The lots which do not fit into the above blends is used for the Rudy wines. Sometimes the lots going into the Diamond Mountain District or even the Rudy are the same as those going into the Single Vineyard level blends; we many just have more of a particular lot then we have need for.
Lastly I do keep separate a few barrels from each vineyard for the ‘private barrel program’.
Thanks for taking the time to read. We hope you have enjoyed it.
Rudy von Strasser