SFChron: Field Blends

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SFChron: Field Blends

Postby TomHill » Thu Aug 24, 2006 2:02 pm

Tim Teichgraber has an interesting article in today's SFChron on field blends. A couple of comments:
1. He refers to old pre-Prohibition growers working w/ odd varieties, including Roussanne. First time I'd heard of any old Roussanne being planted in Calif. Wonder if any of it survives?
2. He refers to "co-fermentation" being any fermentation of mixed varieties together; Zin/Carignane/PS/etc. The only way I've heard of the usage is fermentating a bit of white varieties w/ reds to get enhanced color extraction (co-pigmentation).
3. He says Sean Thackrey "believes to be" the Rossi vnyd is mostly Syrah. My understanding is that the Rossi vnyd is mostly PetiteSirah.
4. He quotes Will Bucklin as asserting the red-variety vines naturally have longer lives than white varieties. That's why all the old-vine vnyds are reds. Never heard this claim before.

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Re: SFChron: Field Blends

Postby Hoke » Thu Aug 24, 2006 2:21 pm

Ref your point #2, Tom:

That's my understanding of co-fermentation too. Although the best known example is probably the Cote Rotie, thus possibly leading people to believe it's strictly "a little white to influence a lot of red", winemakers I've talked to maintain they've always toyed with co-fermentation, as opposed to back blending, or post-fermentation blending, because it produces an entirely different wine.

I know from talking to a historian of the early CA wine families that "Dago Red", that ubiqutious and indefinable red blend, was usually co-fermented wine.

I guess an analogy would be a traditional slow-cooked stew, where you blend all the ingredients together and let them simmer for hours, as versus a stew where you cook all the ingredients separately, then combine them just before serving. Two different dishes.

I'll ask about the Roussanne. Although I bet your buddy Casey up in Mendo would know.
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Re: SFChron: Field Blends

Postby Victorwine » Thu Aug 24, 2006 11:06 pm

Hi Tom,
Thanks for sharing that wonderful article. Just my .02 cents; why white grapes are blended with red grapes, the blended wines are much livelier and crisper. Depending upon the percentage of white grapes added to the blend, they reach there best (or are drinkable) in a “shorter” amount of time (as opposed to if just red grapes were used). Yes blending white grapes with red grapes does enhance color (as opposed to blending white wine with red wine which produces a rose or blush wine), but one should not think of it as a co-pigmentation. Howie did a fine job explaining what happens here (see Blending Basics). Winemaker Kevin Morrisey does a fine job describing co-fermentations vs. blending wines later in the winemaking process. When blending various clones of the same variety one has more control when blending is done much later in the winemaking process. (But than again co-fermentation can result in an interesting wine). (I like Hoke’s analogy).

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