The Art of the Blend

April 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

Blending 040813 At Kokomo I do an unusual amount of varietals: lucky number 13! This affords me a huge amount of creativity and possibilities when it comes to putting together our wines. I love having this “spice rack” in the cellar. When you consider the fact that I make Petite Sirah from three different vineyards, Zinfandel from six different vineyards, Grenache from three vineyards and Pinot Noir from two different vineyards, the blend possibilities go on and on. By law, even a wine that is labeled as a single varietal, it can have as much as 25% of a different varietal in the blend. Although I truly try to be a traditionalist when it comes to vineyard-designate and single varietal wines, to ensure that we show a distinct terroir.

One of the best things about making wines in Sonoma County is the fact that so many varietals do so well here. It may be true that Napa grows better Cabernet Sauvignon in some people’s eyes, but our Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely classic to the varietal. My partner in the winery, Randy Peters affords me the very unique opportunity to source my fruit from three very distinct appellations in Sonoma County. As tempting as it is to use that 25% allowance on each varietal, my main objective continues to be showing more of a purist form of each vineyard and each varietal.

There are however, a couple of opportunities that I have to play with bounty of the cellar. Our Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, Russian River Pinot Noir, and of course our Cuvee are blends of both different vineyards and/or different clones. These wines are meant to be a broader spectrum of sense of place, describing an appellation as opposed to a distinct vineyard. The Cuvee is a blank canvass every year that allows me to showcase each vintage and the diversity of Sonoma County. Every vintage of Cuvee has been a completely different blend from the next. I used to dedicate each vintage to a new born member of our Kokomo Family. But, going forward I have decided to simply call this ever-changing accumulation of my cellar “Kokomo Cuvee.” And in sticking to the more traditional blends, we plan to release a focused blend from a traditional style that is an ode to the Rhone, which will consist of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre.

This will be the first year that we are doing a 101: Blending Seminar for our Wine Club members, and I am proud to say that it is sold-out. Hopefully I will be able to enlighten the participants on how just 5% of another varietal can really make the difference!

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