Meet Muiris (pronounced Muir-ish) Griffin, our new winemaker at Round Pond (you can watch a little video short on him here). Here, he talks about the two approaches he takes with blending, as a painter, and as a sculptor.
The Blending Process
Since coming to Round Pond two months ago, I've spent a lot of time working on the blend for the 2012 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon.
You may think that winemaking is just about pressing grapes, fermenting the juice and aging it in barrels. But it's more subtle and complex than that.
Each lot--meaning wine from a block of vineyard that was picked and fermented together, which can be anywhere from a couple to several dozen barrels--has its own characteristics, and we blend many lots together into the final wine. We also use other varietals to expand or contract various traits of the main varietal.
Personally, I use two approaches in my winemaking, that of a painter, and that of a sculptor.
As a painter, I assemble my "palette" by assessing each individual lot and then playing with different blends of various percentages of each of the lots I think work best.
As a sculptor, I start out with a "kitchen sink" blend, and then, using the barrel by barrel assessment I made earlier, identify which lots I think might be throwing the wine out of balance. Then I pull those out of the next blend and try it again until it's just what we want.
When I pull a lot out, it doesn't mean that the wine itself is faulty, it simply means that it wasn't the right element for the blend. Our 2012 Merlot, for instance, is outstanding on its own, but it overpowered the more nuanced elements of the Rutherford Cabernet. Our final blend for the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon was 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec.
As both the painter and the sculptor, it's amazing to have such incredible wines to be working with for the components. I hope you enjoy drinking the result as much as I did making it.