At M6 we are always looking to the next vintage. We listen to you to determine what you want to see in future wines. We get excited with each bottling in anticipation as to how the wine will mature and present itself.
Soon we will be releasing our first Signature Red. We have labeled this as Vintner's Touch. Vintner's Touch is a Bordeaux style red blend. I realize that I say this about all new offerings, but I am particularly excited about this one. Blending wine is like art. The vintner's empty bottle is much like a blank canvas. Even with limited production, a world of options is available for one to choose from varietals and proportions. What aromas and flavors do I want to accent? How is the color holding up? Presentation, mouth feel, bouquet and taste also are factors to consider. I look at the unfiltered wines in the tanks much like an artist might look at his tubes of paint. Which ones do I want to put on my palette and mix to create something exciting?
The process is like any worthwhile endeavor. It takes time and perseverance. A little creative thinking does not hurt. A willingness to take a risk is essential to finding something good or even great.
First I have to do some research to avoid obvious mistakes. Then I have to decide if I will stick with proven blends or attempt some variation. Blending our wines will still create a unique flavor profile. However I might create something a bit unusual that wine drinkers will embrace. The path I choose must begin with some idea and a (flexible) plan.
Blending and tasting is the fun part. I use a journal to document all efforts in detail. Recording my response to each effort is critical for reference later. Experience and advice has taught me the best time of day to do my tastings. I always try to taste fresh wine. I taste more than once looking for the characteristics I want to stand out to the drinker. I consciously consider all of my senses for the best presentation. OK, maybe not sound. But visual, taste, mouth feel, and aroma all come into play.
When tasting, I allow plenty of time to make my decisions. The process should take several weeks or longer, depending on how breadth of my initial spectrum. Limitations exist because there is only so much wine I can taste in a sitting. Spitting helps, but there is still a limit. I try to set reasonable goals and then go about the rest of my wine business. I have to then set all aside to resume the blending research the next day.
Favorite blends ultimately rise to the top of my chart. I choose the top few. I blend these again and do a comparison. I reaffirm my favorite(s) based on analytics and personal taste. Then I ask trusted staff and friends to weigh in on their favorites. I strive to listen intently to their comments and ask for honest feedback. I realize that the responsibility and final decision is mine, but I also want my blend to be accepted in the market!
My next step is to make my decision and not look back. Even then, the consternation is not over. I then have to bottle it up and wait for the bottle shock to stabilize. I pray that I have chosen well or that it cellars well (in case I have to drink it all).
Bottle shock is real and often makes me wonder if I have bottled hundreds of gallons of something undrinkable. So far, a few weeks of settling down have been rewarding. I still get impatient and have to test wine before it is ready. Wine will not be rushed no matter how inpatient I am! When it is (finally) ready, I get to present it again to select trusted tasters for confirmation. (This is just a formality because at this point it is going on the shelf in the tasting room.)
The foregoing is basically the process that Anne and I went through to blend our M6 Vintner's Touch. Our first Signature Blend is a bold red blend that pairs well with roasted, smoked and grilled meats; especially grilled Ribeye, T-bone or lightly seasoned Filet Mignon. Acidic sauces like marinara bring out the pepper finish. Aged strong cheeses also pair well. After dinner sip with gourmet dark chocolates. Vintner's Touch is also a rewarding flavorful experience enjoyed without any food at all!
We have a limited production of 70 cases of Vintner's Choice. Call me conservative. I hope that I regret not making more!