Rathfinny Wine Estate

Blending

Last week we agreed the blends for our 2017 wines and we made a little video about the process that you can see here.

Blending is all about tasting the wines that we make in a particular year and working out what will work best with other wines to make the various blends we want to bottle – put it this way there’s a lot of swirling and spitting involved!  We are looking to make four blends with our 2017 wines – A Rosé, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs and a Classic Blend from fifteen different tanks of wine and several barrels of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

We started off by tasting each wine from each tank or barrel and assessing its qualities individually. We generally separate each clone into a different tank and ferment them separately.  We then start working out what wines will work well other wines, helping to enhance certain qualities in each blend. We then compare notes and talk about each wine and how we each think they might work in a blend. We’re lucky in that all the 2017 wines are superb.

We started with the Rosé, as we have a finite amount of red wine to blend to make the Rosé, so we know that we are looking for a certain quantity of Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay to make our chosen blend. We chose a selection of wines and blended those together in the quantities we think will work. We then taste the blend and compare notes. After several attempts we get the blend just right, providing a light, attractive, perfumed nose of red fruits, strawberries and raspberries, a good mid-palate and great length.

We then moved onto the Blanc de Blancs (a white wine made from white grapes), made from 100% Chardonnay. 2017 was a Chardonnay year and we’d already selected one particular tank which was superb, full frontal Chardonnay, stone fruit flavours, with a great balanced palate and terrific length. We want to make more as it was such a great year and we’ve chosen to add a small quantity from another tank of equally great Chardonnay to make the required amount, job done.

Next we chose the Pinot Noir and Meunier for the Blanc de Noirs (a white wine made from black grapes). This was more tricky and required a lot more tasting, but the resulting blend is great. The sum of the parts seems to enhance the best qualities of each wine selected for the blend. It’s rich, with a terrific nose, but a great length and with three years bottle ageing we feel that it will be a real star.

Lastly, we look at what we have left over and see how best to blend the Classic Cuvée. This is a blend of all three grapes varieties and typically Pinot Noir is the dominant grape variety, with Chardonnay to give it a balanced mid-palate and the Meunier helps with the floral characteristics.

The next stage is to bottle these chosen blends. When we bottle we add a little sugar and yeast so the wines go through a secondary fermentation inside the bottle, this is when the magic happens. The secondary fermentation produces a little more alcohol and CO2, which is trapped inside the bottle, which goes into the wine creating the fizz. We then age the wines for between 2 years, for our Rosé, and 3-5 years for our other wines, to allow all the great autolytic yeasty flavours to develop.

All I can say is that I think we made some great wines in 2017 but only time will tell. We’ll have to wait until 2021!!

Meanwhile in the Vineyard, the team have nearly completed all the wire lifting and tucking in, for the time being!

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