Posts Tagged ‘Sangiovese’

Blending Wines…

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Has it only been a week?  Time does fly when you are having fun, but I have been doing SO MUCH running around that I can’t believe I have only been in Israel for 1 week so far (OK, 9 days).  I have 6 days left, but I know that will fly.  I’m headed up North tomorrow to the Galil region which includes the highly regarded Galil & Golan Heights viticultural sections. Can’t wait!

But what I wanted to write about tonight was some quick “blending” tidbits.

 wine blending

While at a winery last week talking to a winemaker he had some visitors.  While telling the people about his wine, a woman noted that they were all blends – no 100% varietal wines.  When the winemaker briefly walked away to take a call she mentioned to me and the two others in her party that she thought blends were inferior to wines made from only 1 grape varietal.  I told her that I thought otherwise – what about Bordeaux, which can consist of up to 5 grape varietals?  She was surprised to hear this, and a gentleman who was with her then said that yes they are blends, but they consisted mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Once again trusty Wine Tasting Guy told them that many Bordeaux (generally Right Bank) have a majority Merlot.  This too surprised them.  In the end they realized that this winemaker is making quality wines and they purchased a few bottles.

The second blending story took place tonight, following the completion of the Succot holiday.  I was in Jerusalem for the last day and made my way upon the holiday’s completion from Jerusalem to a winery near Sederot.  There I worked with some winemaker friends on a blend.  I am by no means qualified to concoct a wine blend.  Like everyone else I know if I like a wine or not.  And yes I may be able to comment on and attempt to assess a wine, but create a blend???  We were playing with 3 varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah & Sangiovese.  It was a lot of fun and I learned a thing or two but in the end I think I made things harder on my winemaker friends as opposed to being able to help them out. 

A quick recommendation.  Make your own blends!  No, I’m not saying you should go become a winemaker (although that isn’t a bad idea either), what I’m saying is it is OK to mix wines.  If you happen to have some leftover wine from 2 or more bottles you MAY want to consider mixing them.  I wouldn’t mix different colors, vintages, or very different wines.  And truthfully, more often than not the new wine will probably not be as good as the original wines.  But I DO like to mix bottles for 1 reason.  TO PREVENT OXIDATION.  If I find myself with more than one open bottle and want to best preserve the wines, the best thing to do is to fill ONE bottle and re-cork, removing all oxygen.  Although the wine might be a little weird, at least it won’t be ruined – something that happens with extended exposure to oxygen…

Happy wine blending!!


Making wine in …NEW JERSEY

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

I woke up bright and early this Sunday morning to press the wine with my two “winery” (yes, I use the term liberally) partners.  Alas, our host, “Mr. C” became the proud daddy of a new baby girl even earlier in the morning.  Mazal Tov GC!  So it was down to “Mr. K” & yours truly “Mr. L” (aka “WTG”).

We had somewhere in the range of 320 liters of must (fermented grape sludge) that when pressed, fit snugly into our super sleek 200 liter stainless steel tank.   Sadly our mini 35 gallon basket press meant we had to load and unload several times.

CLK press

See more pics here.

It was a fun and gratifying mornings work.  I am hopeful that this Sangiovese, following a 14 day maceration period (two weeks of fermenting on its skins), is going to be a balanced, fruit driven beauty.

And just as we finished up, right on time, our esteemed winery host, “Mr. C” showed up.  His timing could not have been better as his hands were full….of BEERS & it was time for football.  Hey, better late than never.  And you know what they say, “IT TAKES A LOT OF GOOD BEER TO MAKE A GOOD WINE”…

As soon as we get the labels and capsules on the 2007’s I’ll be passing out samples to friends.  If you are reading this – YOU ARE A FRIEND.  Drop me a dime (or something) and I’ll make sure there is a bottle with your name on it.

Happy CLK home made WINE TASTING!


Home wine making

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

I love what I do.  Name it, if it is wine related I am working on it.  Amongst those things that I am doing are making small batches of wine with a pair of friends in one of their garages.  Whenever people hear that I am making my own wine they comment how “cool” it is.  Yes, it is cool, but it is not nearly as romantic as people expect it to be.  It is A LOT of hard work!

crusher destemmer

We started our Sunday out early, heading to a wine making shop that sells everything anyone needs to make wine.  We bought most of our equipment last year so this morning we pretty much only needed to pick up the fruit – nice ripe Cali grapes.   We tasted all the varietals they had and ultimately decided on Cabernet Sauvignon (real original, I know) and Sangiovese (the Italian varietal that makes wines such as Chianti or Brunello).  I was a little concerned that the cab might be a little underripe, and sure enough that seems to have been the case.  If I were a real pro I would have brought a refractometer (a cool little telescope looking device used to measure sugar levels) to test the sugar levels in the grapes.  But sadly I did not.  Fear not, the Sangiovese was GREAT – or so I hope.  I guess we’ll either make a super Tuscan like blend (Sangiovese together with the Cab) or come up with some other alternative.  Could be worse…

SO we got back with our newly purchased fruit and started crushing & destemming with a machine that looks like the one above.  Basically, it gently crushes the grapes and removes it from the stems, leaving what is known as “must”.  We measure out some sulfites to add to our “must” and leave it in open containers before adding the yeast.  And then we wait…

So basically, today consisted of lifting heavy crates of grapes. Getting sprayed with grape guts.  All while surrounded by bugs on a grape-sugar-high.  Oh, and a whole lot of cleaning.

The exciting part was actually bottling last years batch.  Last year we made a Zinfandel batch & a merlot batch.  Partly for simplicity sake and partly because it worked, we blended the two batches for a Zin/merlot blend.  And you know what…it is not half bad!  We bottled a whole bunch of it and even put on our fancy labels.  Now I’ve got about 5-6 cases worth of wine I’ll be drinking and giving away for a while.  Now THAT is fun…

Happy home made wine tasting!


What constitutes a wine bar?

Monday, June 30th, 2008

By now many of you are aware that part of my Israel Wine project involves wine bars.  As such I went out with some business associates tonight and we both perused several wine bars then ultimately stopped for some drinks and a bite at a new place that calls itself a restaurant & wine bar.

Is a wine bar a place with a large selection of wines?  Is it a place with several offerings by the glass?  Is it a place where snobbery rules?  Does there need to be a sommelier?   How about fancy stemware?  Or even a massive wine display?

wine tower



Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Lo & Behold, I am compelled to eat my words. Granted you may not be STEALING these wines from the retailers, but searches revealed higher prices being charged elsewhere. As to whether they are good wines or not, sadly, I have not tasted them and as such can not vouch for their quality. The first wine however (according to the retailers website) scored a 91 from Robert Parkers; The Wine Advocate.

Deal # 1 – 2006 Kofererhof Muller Thurgau. (maybe not a wine you think of in the dead of winter, but…) “sale” price $14.99. Listed elsewhere for as little as $16 or as much as $28.

Deal # 2 – 2005 Bibi Graetz Casamatta – For sale for $9.49, made from 100% Sangiovese grapes. A nice spicy varietal, great for winter time stews. And at under $10, when others are advertising said wine for between $10 (best price) to as much as $20 for the bottle, probably a wine i would take a shot on.

Now again, I’d prefer to try these wines at my local store before buying a case for everyday consumption, but given what others are charging for these wines, at least you know you aren’t being ripped off.

I’ll drink to that!