Archive for May, 2016

wineblending at Gran Moraine

Friday, May 20th, 2016

On Saturday we went to Gran Moraine for their first-ever wine-blending event. We’ve been to a couple at Montinore, but this was very different. At Montinore, it’s a Valentine’s event; they just hand each couple a basket with everything you need, you play around with blending wines from three vineyard blocks, and you get to take home a bottle of wine blended to your favorite proportions. This had a very different feeling, more academic.

It started with a taste of their new rose just to get us in the mood. It’s a bit different from last year’s, more tart and less fruity. The tour itself began with the tank room, where grapes go in and fermented wine goes out. Rudy (not sure of his exact role, but he’s one of the two people we mostly see there) explained a bit about their winemaking process. The tank room is open to the outer air, but the tanks themselves are chilled to an even temperature. Apparently they try to do a minimalist style of winemaking. As the wine ferments, a crust of grape skins, stems and foam rises. They break the crust and stir it back in twice a day – some wineries do that up to 8 times a day. I wasn’t paying close enough attention, though, and he has a heavy French accent, so I never did quite figure out if they add sugar to increase alcohol level. I think he said they do, Ted thought otherwise. After that, we went down to the barrel room and tasted the wine from three different barrels. They varied quite a lot in aroma, amount of fruit flavor, tannins and acidity, though none of them tasted very good compared to a finished blended wine.

Some photos of the tank room and cellar:
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After that came the blending. The winemaker herself was there for that; Eugenia told us a bit about herself and the wine business, along with her philosophy of how to blend (always start with the ‘center’ of the flavor; you can then add in a fruitier front or a longer finish). We played around with different proportions, but the three samples we had to blend were set in order so it was pretty clear which was expected to be the main backbone of the flavor. She asked a few people about their preferences, and told some more stories. My main takeaway from the day was that what we were doing was just the play version of what a winemaker does – blending three tastes can’t compare to tasting every single barrel in the cellar, deciding how much of which and what to use to get a consistent wine. To be honest, I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t get to take home a bottle of our own blend, as at Montinore, and that there wasn’t any food except a dish of excellent local hazelnuts to clear our palates. We’re glad we did it and it was a good learning experience, but we probably wouldn’t make this a regular annual thing – we’ll save that for their dinners.

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the wine report, a few days late

Friday, May 13th, 2016

We were out at the lake last weekend – Saturday was gorgeous and luckily we rowed before the wind kicked up; Sunday was colder, gray and windy. But we did get to have a couple nice dinners on the deck!

We keep saying that we need to stop at the Willamette Valley vineyard (it’s right on I-5, so we pass it every time we head out to the lake house) but I’d have to say that we were not terribly impressed with their Pinot last weekend.

5/6/2016
Willamette Valley
2014 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley, Oregon, obviously
bought at Fred Meyer
We had this with hamburgers. Ruby color, cherry flavors up front. I thought this was a bit acidic, with overpowering tannins; Ted disagreed on the tannins but commented on “strong nasty flavors” in the finish. (Actually, he thought the wine might have gone bad, but it tasted OK to me.
Paula: 2.8 Ted: 1.8

On the other hand, we do tend to like Abacela (which of course is why we belong to their wine club.

5/7/2016
Abacela
2013 Albarino
Umpqua Valley, Oregon
from the wine club
With grilled salmon, sourdough bread and tossed salad. Apple aromas and flavors. A little tart, with light oak flavors on the finish. Tropical fruit notes at the start.
Paula: 3.0 Ted: 3.4

This coming weekend should be fun – we are going to a wine-blending event at Gran Moraine!