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Tasting to feature blending techniques

By Staff
Jan. 16, 2002
We've held many unique wine tastings but the next one will almost certainly be the most unique of all. It will be held Jan. 31 and, frankly, I can hardly wait.
As you may know, many of the world's greatest red wines are blends. French bordeaux are almost always blends, some more, some less. The new Ridge Coastal is a blend of five different wines. Greg Norman blends cabernet and merlot. The cabernet is for its strength and character, and the merlot for smoothness.
Some reds are blended with the spicy berry fruit of cabernet franc. Malbec grapes add a plummy almost perfume like aroma to the wine. If you were a wine maker and you wanted more depth of color to your cabernet you'd add petit verdot.
How to do it
Take Orville Magoon, owner of California's famous Guenoc winery. Fred Tasker, a columnist for the Miami Herald describes Magoon's procedure this way.
The story is the same at other famous vineyards, Benzinger, Dry Creek, Kendall Jackson, Merryvale, Woodward Canyon, Clos du Bois and most others. They all blend to improve their wines.
Now, for the first time you're going to see wine blending done in Meridian and even do it yourself.
Those of you who attended the Australian wine tasting and the tasting for Spanish wines will remember Norm Rush, a major distributor of fine wines in Mississippi who brought the speakers. Well, Rush is coming back to conduct a blending clinic of red wines for us, designed to show how adding one wine to another changes the flavor, the bouquet, even the color, in order to improve the wine.
Five wines produced from different grapes will be used: the cabernet sauvignon, petite verdot, merlot, cabernet franc and the malbec. Here are the blending characteristics of each:.
Cabernet sauvignon: Forward, intense fruit quality. Excellent structure, body, palate feel. Lends itself to noteworthy aging in the bottle.
Petite Verdot: Adds considerable color, fruit and berry qualities, spiciness and structure depth. Blending limitation can be the overall tannins but otherwise indispensably for complexity and ageworthiness.
Merlot: Adds bright forward fruit, softness, drinkability and youthful accessibility. In smaller amounts (less than 20 percent) does not dilute structure.
Cabernet franc: Compliments Cabernet Sauvignon in fruit character and style while adding spicy herbal notes of its own. Maintains overall structural depth without dilution.
Malbec: Similar to merlot in its ability to soften the blend and moderate the overall tannin structure. Used in smaller quantities to add bright fruit and woody, spicy qualities.
Special orders
Norm has ordered special tasting cases of the above wines, unblended as of now, each 100 percent from its own particular grape. The night of the tasting, he will show us how to blend winers like some of the world's greatest wine makers. You will learn about enhancing wine. It will be a learning experience but a very pleasurable one as you taste wine you yourself have created.
When Rush agreed to come and conduct this tasting, he asked me for the number of guests he should anticipate. He ordered just enough of these special blending wine cases for a crowd of that size. It is absolutely necessary you make a reservation for this event because when it is filled up, that's it.
The price is $25 per guest. It will be held at Northwood Country Club, as usual, and you do not need to be a member of the club to come. The blending tasting will begin at 6:30. To make that reservation call 482-0930 or send your check to: Wines Unlimited, P.O. Box 5223, Meridian, MS 39302. All reservation must be paid in advance because of the limited seating.

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