Wine 2021 – Update #01

14 September 2021

This fall’s plans have undergone evolution, as ideas crossed my mind, discussions with my son & niece occurred, and — finally — the list of available grapes solidified. My local group gets one shipment from the west coast, so we get a choice of what grapes are available, which appears to be centered around Cabernet Sauvignon, which comprised 30% of the overall order for the last 2 years. The choice of shipment date is actually complex, although our coordinator handles that and I cheerfully order from the list he provides.

The 2020 grapes (still in barrel) are a Meritage (Merlot heavy Bordeaux blend) and Meritage+ (added Zinfandel to the blend), so for 2021 I wanted to do something totally different. I get bored drinking the same wines. Rhone was top of my list, although because of which grapes have been available, I had to make decisions that are not typical for Rhone reds.

Rhone Reds

For those not familiar, Rhone is a wine region in France which produces great reds and whites. Different grapes are legal to grow in different parts of the Rhone valley, so the wines are different between the north and south (I’m simplifying this as it’s a complicated topic).

Northern Rhone red wines are based on Syrah, and often have a white blended in to soften it, as the Syrah is a very bold grape. Southern Rhone red wines are based mostly on  Grenache, which is a lighter red grape, and beefed up with any of a dozen or so reds, including Syrah.

Decisions, decisions, decisions

I wanted to make a southern Rhone, but the last two years Grenache was not in our shipment window, so I was going to blend Syrah with Mourvèdre and Petite Sirah. This is not a legal Rhone blend, but it’s the best I could do.

Note: Although Petite Sirah was developed in France, it’s not grown in Rhone. However, it is grown around the world and the Rhone Ranger group of California considers it a Rhone grape. I was going to include it in the blend as I had nothing else.

But … this year’s early ripening grapes changed the landscape — Grenache IS available, so Barrel #1 will be a southern Rhone blend [number in “()” is # of 36 lb lugs]:

Grenache (5), Syrah (2), Mourvèdre (1)

I researched Rhone blends and this seemed like a good fit for the grapes I have available.

The second barrel was going to be an Italian blend, Sangiovese and Barbera. This is not a common blend, but is done in Italy so I figured we’d go for it.

However, this year we have a selection of Italian grapes available,  we are taking advantage of it in case they are not available next year. Please note the grapes are from different areas of Italy and not normally blended together, so we researched the characteristics of each and are winging it:

Sangiovese (4), Montepulciano (1), Nebbiolo (1), Nero d’Avola (1), Sagrantino (1)

The choices were based upon aromatics, flavoring, and coloring provided by each grape.

The order is being placed and I’ll have the grapes in a couple of weeks.

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