Making a blend is one of the most important skills of a wine producer. Try it yourself on a BKWine tour!
Most wines are actually a blend of several different “base wines”. A big part of the winemaker’s talent and skill is to be able to choose the right wines and to create a balanced wine in the final blend, cuvée. Lear how they do it in our “blend your own wine”-seminar on a wine tour with BKWine!
Blending a cuvée from grape varieties, barrels, vintages in Bordeaux, Champagne etc
In Bordeaux it is a question of mixing different grape varieties, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot and carmenere. It can also be a question of choosing the appropriate oak barrel character: How much “new oak” should it be in the blend? Or should it rather be one or two years old barrels to get the good end-result? What about the “toasting”? All wine barrels, barriques, are burned on the inside, slightly charred. They have different kinds of “toasting” (chauffe in French). All of this has in impact on the character of the wine, its nose, its flavour.
In Champagne it is also a question of mixing different grape varieties, chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier. But here they also blend wines from different vineyards or different parts of the wine region, say Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims. They often even blend vintages. Very few champagnes are made from a single vintage. Most are a mixture of different years’ harvests.
This is the way it works in most wine regions. Even if they have only one grape variety (say pinot noir for red Burgundy) it is a question blending wines from different sections of the vineyard. Or perhaps other parameters, barrels, tanks…
Virtually all wines are a blend in some way.
The skills of the winemaker
The winemaker mixes, tastes, makes another blend, tastes again etc etc until he arrives at what he wants, at a balanced end product. That is when he has found his cuvée! It is also a question of being able to predict the future. How will this final blend develop over time?
Making the blend, the final cuvée, is a very important part of what the winemaker or oenologist brings to the process of “making” wine.
Experience for yourself the challenges of the winemaker: “blend your own wine”-workshop
If you want to get a better understanding of what this is about and try for yourself to make your very own cuvée then you can come on one of our wine tours with a wine blending seminar, or workshop.
You will do hands-on exercises of how this is done in the winery. The winery where we do this workshop will present you with a range of “base wines”. With those as raw material and starting point you will have to decide on what you think is the best blend. How much merlot should it be? Perhaps a touch more cabernet? Do we need a bit more oak character or has it already become too dominant? And so on.
At the end you will taste what the others have arrived at. Taste. Compare. Vote! Who made the most successful blend? What did they do to get it? And how does it compare to the wine from the chateau itself!?
A very exciting and instructive exercise, but not too overly serious (!), that will give you new insights into the winemaking challenges. Come on one of our wine tours that includes a wine blending seminar!
Take a look in our travel program Our Tours > Scheduled Tours to see if we currently have a wine tour with a blending workshop scheduled. Or contact us to discuss a custom designed tour or for more info.