Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Tale of Two Tastings

Last night at the weekly event here at the store we tasted three whites and four reds with the whites being light, simple summertime fare and the reds being some combination of the Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.  The whites were delightful and actually sold better than the reds but they were also less than half the price of the reds and it's the reds I want to talk about here.

Our tasting lineups are often determined by what I have in the store when Friday rolls around and this time I had four wines in roughly the same price range all using some combination of the grapes listed above.  The 2009 Canoe Ridge Columbia Valley Merlot is 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2007 Testamento Mendoza, Argentina Red Blend is 50% Malbec and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2010 Stratton Lummis Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot while the 2011 Tower 15 "The Swell" Paso Robles Red Blend is all five grapes: 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 12% Malbec, 11% Petit Verdot, and 10% Cabernet Franc.

Purely for objectivity, I decided to bag the wines up in brown paper with a prominant number 1, 2, 3, or 4 on each bag.  Our tasters last night were quite receptive to the plan and played along gamely.  Interestingly enough, there was more diversity in commentary about the wines than I would have expected with everyone expressing a fave other than what was chosen by others nearby.  That doesn't always happen  Often someone makes his declarations known and everyone else follows the leader.  At the end of the evening all four wines sold comparably well with the Argentine slightly outselling the others.

Our group of tasters last night was a vigorous one and at evening's end there was only a small amount left in each bottle.  Rather than waste my "Private Preserve" gas in each bottle, I combined the wines into one bottle.  I figured I was playing with historically proven blending grapes anyway, so what the heck.  I then gassed that bottle and put it away for today's business.  Nothing ventured, right?

Without giving away any of my winemaking trade secrets, I figure my proprietary blend ended up being about half Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% each of Merlot and Malbec, and 5% each of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  On Saturday three adhoc tasting groups tasted the wines from Friday and I was totally upfront about the red blend concoction I had assembled.  Two out of three liked the wine while the third thoroughly did not.  At the end of the day I tasted my blend and darned if it wasn't really good.  Sales results, by the way were about half of what I sold on Friday.  As these things go, that was good enough. 

I also got recommendations on Saturday to go public with my new wine.  Maybe I missed my calling...and maybe I should hire an agent.

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