WootBot


quality posts: 15 Private Messages WootBot

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Our latest guest blogger, Trent Moffett of C&T Cellars, grew up in the vineyards of Napa Valley, spending many summers working at family and independent vineyards. Upon graduating from the University of the Pacific with a BA in agricultural business, Trent joined the family business at Livingston Vineyards. There, with his father John Livingston, he learned the appreciation of winemaking from Livingston's first wine maker, Randy Dunn. Trent's multifaceted roles ranged from California sales to cellar master. Within a few years, Trent assumed all cellar operations, collaborating with esteemed winemaker Greg Graham from Rombauer (1992-1996), John Kongsgaard (1996-2001), and Marco DiGiulio (2001-2006). Trent worked a harvest in New Zealand's South Island with Grant Taylor, one of New Zealand's most honored winemakers. In 1993 he introduced C&T Cellars, a négociant wine label.  
 
What is a Negociant wine? How does the winery or wine label find these wines? How can you be consistent when you don’t own or contract with the same vineyards? How do you put these wines together? These are some of the question I hear travelling around the country selling my C&T Cellars wines.

“Négociants buy everything from grapes to grape must to wines in various states of completion. In the case of grapes or must, the négociant performs virtually all the winemaking. If it buys already fermented wine in barrels or 'en-vrac' - basically in bulk containers, it may age the wine further, blend in other wines or simply bottle and sell it as is. The result is sold under the name of the négociant, not the name of the original grape or wine producer.”Wikipedia

How does the winery or wine label find these wines? The bulk market for both fruit and wine is extremely active with tens of thousands of tons of grapes available and hundreds of thousands probably millions of gallons of wine available. This is not to say that it’s all good wine or fruit, but it’s available. For example, if you look at Turrentine's web site you will see one brokers list of bulk wines available. Turrentine is a medium to large size broker and many of the different companies have the same wines. For me personally, I almost exclusively purchase wine from winemakers I know or wineries that I’ve worked with before. I have developed a great group of friends and winery contacts that will call me before they farm the wines out.

How can you be consistent when you don’t own or contract with the same vineyards? This is a great question and the answer in my mind is that you can’t be consistent. That being said, I’ve been very fortunate to work with the same people for 16 years and am able to get some consistency here and there. I always tell people that my wines will not be the same year to year, but they will provide you with an excellent price to quality ratio. Because I’ve been able to deliver that to my consumers, I’ve developed a great trust with them and the wineries I work with. Why would my winery clients care about the quality of the wine I bottle and sell? Because the wine I get from them is still their baby which they have put a lot of time and effort into. Here is an example from my 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet: A family friend and winery owner produces one red wine per vintage that retails above $50 a bottle. They blend 4 different varietals into there red wine and during blending they had way too much merlot from that vintage. The merlot was made in one batch, treated the same, they just had too much. A lot of the time I will find a winery that is running behind in sales and needs to short a vintage to get caught up. This is a great way to find wine that is ready to go and has been treated well.

How do you put these wines together?
This is the fun part of the job. I love being the Master Blender! People talk about it in different ways. I like to compare it to putting a band together. First you find your “rock star” then you start finding the other members of the band. Without the “rock star” you just have a group of artists together making music, but the “rock star” brings the band and the show together. I hardly ever find a wine that is bottle ready. Most the time the wine will need a little help to fit my palate. Most of these lots are also too small to bottle. For example my 2005 Rooftop Red Cabernet came from three different producers with a total production of 289 cases. Literally I took my truck and trailer to these different wineries and grabbed a barrel or two, with the big lot being the cabernet at 8 barrels. C&T Cellars average production per varietal ranges from 300 cases to 1,000 cases.

There is so much more that can be covered on this subject and I hope to cover it with your questions.


yumitori


quality posts: 22 Private Messages yumitori

Hey, Trent!

Thanks for joining us. This is a subject I'm interested in, but know little about.

There seems to be a lot of cachet in owning your own vineyard and making 'estate' wines, as if just by growing your own grapes automatically means your wine is better.

Do you feel there's a tendency to 'look down on' negociant winemakers in the industry, as sort of being the opposite of 'estate grown', or do most folks understand the potential value in being able to pick the best of what's available?


paryb


quality posts: 17 Private Messages paryb

I for one appreciate the type of wine you offer. My fiance and I have a bottle of wine almost every night. Sure I dig having some Wellington or Ty Caton around, and I do have a couple gems in the wine fridge, but If I could have something tasty, affordable, and not the same damn thing every night.

I'm curious do you generally share where you source your grapes/juice/must from? Do the vinters/winemakers mind? I mean, if I saw a wine that was sourced from say Peter Wellington, Kent Rassmusen, Ty Caton, Cathy Corison, Jeff Gaffner ETC. I'd wonder first, how the hell can you keep a cork in a bottle of so much awesome, and I'd buy all of it.

/just sayin

189 Bottles of wine from Woot so far!
$3319.36or a mere $17.56 per bottle.

wine.woot Keeping Paryb in the red(and sometimes white) since 5/9/2007

INTLGerard


quality posts: 58 Private Messages INTLGerard

Guest Blogger

Hello Trent and welcome.

Can you share your approach to the blending process in more detail and the steps you take to achieve the optimal results you’re looking for? As a negociant winemaker you are sampling various different bulk wines that are available to you. When you are looking to blend multiple varietals, how do you decide on the final blend before purchasing the quantity you will need for the finished wine?

andyduncan


quality posts: 32 Private Messages andyduncan

We met Trent at the final dinner of the RPM tour, good guy and good wines, hopefully WDs doing a little foreshadowing here like he did with Kent.

I'm putting WD's kids through college.

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
yumitori wrote:Hey, Trent!

Thanks for joining us. This is a subject I'm interested in, but know little about.

There seems to be a lot of cachet in owning your own vineyard and making 'estate' wines, as if just by growing your own grapes automatically means your wine is better.

Do you feel there's a tendency to 'look down on' negociant winemakers in the industry, as sort of being the opposite of 'estate grown', or do most folks understand the potential value in being able to pick the best of what's available?


Thanks for welcoming me in. Negociants definitely are looked at in a different class then say your Estate owned and operated winery. I guess this is due to the price points of the wines. I personally think the hunt for the wine is very challenging and rewarding. I make wine both as a negociant (C&T Cellars and Gauge Wines) and as a vineyard and winery owner (Moffett Vineyards and Livingston Moffett Wines). My wife has asked me on several occasions “why do we make Moffett Vineyards?” I guess the answer could be ego….. When it comes to making a living it is much easier to be a negociant.


CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
paryb wrote:I for one appreciate the type of wine you offer. My fiance and I have a bottle of wine almost every night. Sure I dig having some Wellington or Ty Caton around, and I do have a couple gems in the wine fridge, but If I could have something tasty, affordable, and not the same damn thing every night.

I'm curious do you generally share where you source your grapes/juice/must from? Do the vinters/winemakers mind? I mean, if I saw a wine that was sourced from say Peter Wellington, Kent Rassmusen, Ty Caton, Cathy Corison, Jeff Gaffner ETC. I'd wonder first, how the hell can you keep a cork in a bottle of so much awesome, and I'd buy all of it.

/just sayin



Mumm is the word when it comes to finding wine – that is if you ever what to get that source again. I’ve had wine in the market that was selling for $85 under another label and mine was at $20. There are a lot of great wines on the bulk market, you just have to be patient and know what you are looking for. It’s like playing poker; you don’t want to be left drawing for an inside straight.

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
INTLGerard wrote:Hello Trent and welcome.

Can you share your approach to the blending process in more detail and the steps you take to achieve the optimal results you’re looking for? As a negociant winemaker you are sampling various different bulk wines that are available to you. When you are looking to blend multiple varietals, how do you decide on the final blend before purchasing the quantity you will need for the finished wine?



I have to do a tasting right now, but I will answer this in about an hour and a half - love this question.

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
andyduncan wrote:We met Trent at the final dinner of the RPM tour, good guy and good wines, hopefully WDs doing a little foreshadowing here like he did with Kent.



Thank you Andy, that was a fun evening.

canonizer


quality posts: 22 Private Messages canonizer
CTmasterblender wrote:Mumm is the word when it comes to finding wine – that is if you ever what to get that source again. I’ve had wine in the market that was selling for $85 under another label and mine was at $20. There are a lot of great wines on the bulk market, you just have to be patient and know what you are looking for. It’s like playing poker; you don’t want to be left drawing for an inside straight.



I was just talking about Dana Goodyear's New Yorker article on Franzia and $2 chuck in another thread. Franzia comments about waiting someone down from $20/unit (gallon? liter? barrel?) all the way down to $1.

Do you find years when it's much more of a buyer's market than seller's? Do you ever stay out of year with thin margins if the juice is very expensive?

signed.

gcdyersb


quality posts: 141 Private Messages gcdyersb
CTmasterblender wrote:Mumm is the word when it comes to finding wine – that is if you ever what to get that source again. I’ve had wine in the market that was selling for $85 under another label and mine was at $20. There are a lot of great wines on the bulk market, you just have to be patient and know what you are looking for. It’s like playing poker; you don’t want to be left drawing for an inside straight.



What's your take on Cameron Hughes? Friend, colleague, competitor for the juice you pursue? He does blend a bit, but seems to more often bottle exactly what he gets from a winery. He seems a bit like the Gary Vaynerchuck of negociants, always with some enthusiastic marketing angle.

Cabernet Franc: it's not just for blending! It's also for blogging.

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
INTLGerard wrote:Hello Trent and welcome.

Can you share your approach to the blending process in more detail and the steps you take to achieve the optimal results you’re looking for? As a negociant winemaker you are sampling various different bulk wines that are available to you. When you are looking to blend multiple varietals, how do you decide on the final blend before purchasing the quantity you will need for the finished wine?



Just had a great tasting with a guy from Martis Camp in Tahoe – back to the questions. Blending is obviously everything when it comes to a negociant wine. As I stated in the opening blog, you have to start with a wine that you really care about. If I’m looking to produce a Cabernet, my first purchase will be a wine that has a lot of potential to be a stand alone wine, normally it will have very good concentration and big fruit. This wine usually will cost a lot more then the others that I will eventually blend into the wine, but that’s alright because it will help all the others. These will usually run in the $30+ a gallon range (this will also help answer the Charles Shaw question posted). Once I own the core Cabernet, I start looking for wines that will improve or get lost in the current wine I own; for example: the Cabernet may be one dimensional and need a little character that you can find though another varietal or through a wine that has bright acidity. The best way to make sure that these wines go together is to take the wine you already own over to the winery that has wine 2, blend them and see what percentage works, make your offer and drive that lot back to the cave while you look for wine 3. I stop blending when I think the wine is complete and the numbers make sense for both production size (300 – 800 cases usually) and the finance side ($15 to $20 a gallon for Cabernet). To finish up the Charles Shaw question, I don’t wait around and try to find those crazy deals. I work with people I respect and people that I want to work with for the long term. I do have to buy some wine through brokers were I don’t know the winery and I offer what I think the wine is worth and the price I need to find, but that is never a dollar. I think the most affordable wine I’ve bought was an $8 Merlot and it was right after Sideways the movie came out! I also only deal with Appellation wines which tend to be more expensive then California Appellation wines.

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
canonizer wrote:I was just talking about Dana Goodyear's New Yorker article on Franzia and $2 chuck in another thread. Franzia comments about waiting someone down from $20/unit (gallon? liter? barrel?) all the way down to $1.

Do you find years when it's much more of a buyer's market than seller's? Do you ever stay out of year with thin margins if the juice is very expensive?



There are definitely buy and seller years in the bulk market, for example, trying to find Sauv. Blanc from the Napa Valley right now is difficult because that varietal got hit extremely hard by frost in 2008. I just there is always the fear that you won’t be able to find a wine, but knock on wood; I’ve been able to produce the wine I need when I need it. I have skipped vintages once or twice, but that was due to timing more then anything. I’ve also (only once) did two wines same varietal and vintage because I ran out and found more high quality product. The toughest varietal right now is Pinot Noir, must of the bulk juice is pretty pour in my mind. I just bottled a Santa Maria Valley Pinot that I won’t make money on, but it keeps my wine in the market and my customers expect me to put out a Pinot.

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
gcdyersb wrote:What's your take on Cameron Hughes? Friend, colleague, competitor for the juice you pursue? He does blend a bit, but seems to more often bottle exactly what he gets from a winery. He seems a bit like the Gary Vaynerchuck of negociants, always with some enthusiastic marketing angle.



I think he is brilliant. I believe he sells 70,000+ cases to Costco in South Carolina alone. I guess he's a competitor, but honestly there are so many wines out there that competitors are everywhere. I put my head down focus on what I know and start moving forward.

yumitori


quality posts: 22 Private Messages yumitori


So how does one get started as a negociant in the first place?

You obviously have an insider's connections, but what advice would you give to someone wishing to start from scratch?


CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
yumitori wrote:So how does one get started as a negociant in the first place?

You obviously have an insider's connections, but what advice would you give to someone wishing to start from scratch?



Well after you get your license to produce and sell wine, I would start by going around to different custom crush facilities and leaving the winemaker your name and numbers letting him know that you are interested in bulk wine. Then contact the brokers, H and H, Mancuso, Turrentine and Ciati to get your account set up. Once you know what you want to produce and what you budget is start calling for samples and putting blends together. This is under the assumption that you already have a label designed and you have a facility line up for bottling. One key factor with the bottling facility is the amount of tank space they have and if you are able to tie up that tank for a few weeks. It is also helpful to have clean sterile used barrels at your facility to store wine in as you are gathering different lots.

PetiteSirah


quality posts: 80 Private Messages PetiteSirah

Do you need anybody to help you taste PS :-) ?

Hail the victor, the king without flaw
Salute your new master ... Petite Sirah!


"Who has two thumbs and loves Petite Sirah?" ThisGuy!

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
PetiteSirah wrote:Do you need anybody to help you taste PS :-) ?



Where do you live... I do put blind tastings together with the final blends before bottling to make sure I'm not getting "house palate"

tkastorff


quality posts: 4 Private Messages tkastorff

I just finished reading a similar deal on CWH and his story, funny this thread opens up. Interesting subject, being a negociant wine maker.

Interested to hear more from Trent ...

are we allowed to ask business type questions, such as -

what is the average margin on a varietal you put out? ie: you said you won't make a dime on the new pinot, but what about others?

what type of marketing do you use? do you just put the wine on the shelves and hope it sells, do you advertise on the web/radio/magazines ...?

do you find that not being able to put the sourced grapes winery name on the label really blows? like man, I want to tell the world this is XYZ estate cabernet, but I can't, arghhh!!!

I find the business model pretty cool, would love to get involved in that field, but I am sure it is a tough game and competition is fierce. Cam H dominates the costco down here in San Diego ...

thanks for your involvement!

add: Rombauer is our favorite, just noticed you collaborated with them in the past. Best. Zin. Ever.

w.w bottles| 308 L: Spelletich Lodi Sangiovese

"Life's too short for bad coffee, bad chocolate, and bad wine"

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
tkastorff wrote:I just finished reading a similar deal on CWH and his story, funny this thread opens up. Interesting subject, being a negociant wine maker.

Interested to hear more from Trent ...

are we allowed to ask business type questions, such as -

what is the average margin on a varietal you put out? ie: you said you won't make a dime on the new pinot, but what about others?

what type of marketing do you use? do you just put the wine on the shelves and hope it sells, do you advertise on the web/radio/magazines ...?

do you find that not being able to put the sourced grapes winery name on the label really blows? like man, I want to tell the world this is XYZ estate cabernet, but I can't, arghhh!!!

I find the business model pretty cool, would love to get involved in that field, but I am sure it is a tough game and competition is fierce. Cam H dominates the costco down here in San Diego ...

thanks for your involvement!

add: Rombauer is our favorite, just noticed you collaborated with them in the past. Best. Zin. Ever.



I’m a pretty open guy so I will try and answer these as best I can without getting myself into trouble.
1. My margins usually run between 30% and 50% per wine. The Pinot I mentioned is around 15% at my FOB pricing. I’m confident that the Pinot bulk market will get back to its normal pricing once the new vines (which there is a lot of) start producing at normal levels, so I’ll take my hit now but it will be just for this one vintage. I hope. With my C&T Cellars label, I pretty fixed on my pricing, so it’s my job to put a great bottle of wine together with in my budget. PS – the margins above are with minimal market and doesn’t account for insurance and any admin.
2. I don’t do any advertising. The main way I sell the product is to go into my different market and host tasting, work with my Distributor and do Winemaker Dinners in the evenings. My last trip to NC I did 4 wine dinners in 5 days, a different city every day.
3. No, I guess I’ve gotten used to it over the last 17 vintages. It would be great for sales, so that hurts some times. I do get a laugh when I see the wine reviewed and look up the wineries score and see 5-10 point difference when it’s the same juice, just not the same price or label – given it may not have as much oak because I bought the neutral barrels.
4. The competition is crazy out there. Can ANYONE think of an industry that has so many different products. Let’s say the Napa Valley has over 1,200 Cabernets being produced (not a stretch) and we only produce 4% of all the wine made in the state of California, now think about the number of states making wine (every state), then think about how many Cabernets are on you favorite restaurants wine list! It’s a tough field. I’m not looking for tears, I love this industry and will be in it the rest of my life, all I’m saying is NO more wine labels…..joking.

Cheers!

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender


add: Rombauer is our favorite, just noticed you collaborated with them in the past. Best. Zin. Ever.[/quote]

Greg Graham is very talented - I love that you have no clue that the alc. is 16+ when you drink their Zin. Greg Graham was one of the first winemakers I worked under when I joined my parents winery Livingston Moffett.

PetiteSirah


quality posts: 80 Private Messages PetiteSirah
CTmasterblender wrote:Where do you live... I do put blind tastings together with the final blends before bottling to make sure I'm not getting "house palate"



Sadly, the other coast.

Hail the victor, the king without flaw
Salute your new master ... Petite Sirah!


"Who has two thumbs and loves Petite Sirah?" ThisGuy!

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
PetiteSirah wrote:Sadly, the other coast.



Too bad

PetiteSirah


quality posts: 80 Private Messages PetiteSirah
CTmasterblender wrote:Too bad



I do accept samPleS via mail, as I blog only about PS. :-) You don't need to tell me what it is, as long as PS is involved.

I won't steer you wrong. Just ask anybody else on here.

Hail the victor, the king without flaw
Salute your new master ... Petite Sirah!


"Who has two thumbs and loves Petite Sirah?" ThisGuy!

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
PetiteSirah wrote:I do accept samPleS via mail, as I blog only about PS. :-) You don't need to tell me what it is, as long as PS is involved.

I won't steer you wrong. Just ask anybody else on here.



I think I know a few people that would love to get samples via mail.

ddeuddeg


quality posts: 35 Private Messages ddeuddeg
CTmasterblender wrote:I think I know a few people that would love to get samples via mail.



Likely more than a few.

"Always keep a bottle of Champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you've got a bottle of Champagne in the fridge". - Hester Browne


Ddeuddeg's Cheesecake Cookbook

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
ddeuddeg wrote:Likely more than a few.



Love the Hemingway quote

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
CTmasterblender wrote:Love the Hemingway quote



QUIET DAY - HHHEEELLLLLLOOOOOOO. Just playing around and looking for a little conversation. How about those Lakers!

andyduncan


quality posts: 32 Private Messages andyduncan
CTmasterblender wrote:QUIET DAY - HHHEEELLLLLLOOOOOOO. Just playing around and looking for a little conversation. How about those Lakers!



Sheesh. So needy.

Ok, so do you ever do any crazy blends? Like Petite Sirah and Chardonnay? Or Pinot and Gevurztraminer?

EDIT: Or what about a kind of everything wine? The Varietal Century Club people would pay big money for a blend with 20 or so different varietals in it.

And how much cross-vintage blending do you do?

I'm putting WD's kids through college.

INTLGerard


quality posts: 58 Private Messages INTLGerard

Guest Blogger

CTmasterblender wrote:Well after you get your license to produce and sell wine, I would start by going around to different custom crush facilities and leaving the winemaker your name and numbers letting him know that you are interested in bulk wine. Then contact the brokers, H and H, Mancuso, Turrentine and Ciati to get your account set up. Once you know what you want to produce and what you budget is start calling for samples and putting blends together. This is under the assumption that you already have a label designed and you have a facility line up for bottling. One key factor with the bottling facility is the amount of tank space they have and if you are able to tie up that tank for a few weeks. It is also helpful to have clean sterile used barrels at your facility to store wine in as you are gathering different lots.



Do you every get involved in vineyard management or consultation with the winemaker on a given varietal for your sourcing or are your efforts for purely focused on purchasing finished wine and blending? Have you considered the flying winemaker angle like Jayson Woodbridge and his Hundred Acre Layer Cake wines?

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
andyduncan wrote:Sheesh. So needy.

Ok, so do you ever do any crazy blends? Like Petite Sirah and Chardonnay? Or Pinot and Gevurztraminer?

EDIT: Or what about a kind of everything wine? The Varietal Century Club people would pay big money for a blend with 20 or so different varietals in it.

And how much cross-vintage blending do you do?



Thank you Andy!! I don’t make any real crazy blends except under my Moffett Vineyards label where I have a Willow’s Blend that is 50% Cab, 25% Syrah and Cabernet Franc, but I don’t think that is too crazy. The craziest blend I’ve run across is the Tandem Peloton Red Wine Blend, it has a little of everything in it. Nice wine!

I’m a huge fan of cross-vintage blending. It’s not talked about a lot, but almost every winemaker I know does it on occasion. I probably mix 2% to the legal 5% in 75% of my wines. There are a couple of reasons to take advantage of the younger fruit: first it typically has fresh vibrant fruit flavors that enhance the wine and give it great stage presence. It’s kind of like having a cup of coffee in the morning; it picks you up and gets you ready to go. Second, and the one people don’t like mentioning is that you get to increase production a little and get some money back a little earlier then you would have. Honestly, it’s really about the wine and it can really help fill in any gaps that your wine may have.

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
INTLGerard wrote:Do you every get involved in vineyard management or consultation with the winemaker on a given varietal for your sourcing or are your efforts for purely focused on purchasing finished wine and blending? Have you considered the flying winemaker angle like Jayson Woodbridge and his Hundred Acre Layer Cake wines?



Ironically, I hadn’t made any of the C&T Cellars wines till recently, but I’ve made three lately. Only one is on the market still, my 2006 Rooftop Red Cabernet, the other two were great: 2005 Backyard Chard and 2005 Patio Pinot (find it if you can). This is definitely not in my business plan, it’s much easier to find made wine and blend them together, not to mention more profitable then having to buy fruit, barrels and pay for storage – not to mention the cost of money during that time period. I ask myself, “what in the hell am I doing” when it happens, but it’s hard to say no to nice fruit at a great price.

Good night

andyduncan


quality posts: 32 Private Messages andyduncan
CTmasterblender wrote:’m a huge fan of cross-vintage blending. It’s not talked about a lot, but almost every winemaker I know does it on occasion. I probably mix 2% to the legal 5% in 75% of my wines. There are a couple of reasons to take advantage of the younger fruit: first it typically has fresh vibrant fruit flavors that enhance the wine and give it great stage presence. It’s kind of like having a cup of coffee in the morning; it picks you up and gets you ready to go. Second, and the one people don’t like mentioning is that you get to increase production a little and get some money back a little earlier then you would have. Honestly, it’s really about the wine and it can really help fill in any gaps that your wine may have.



So I take it you almost always are mixing in younger fruit? Would/have there be/een situations where you would/have blend/ed older wine in? and why?

I'm putting WD's kids through college.

PetiteSirah


quality posts: 80 Private Messages PetiteSirah
INTLGerard wrote:Do you every get involved in vineyard management or consultation with the winemaker on a given varietal for your sourcing or are your efforts for purely focused on purchasing finished wine and blending? Have you considered the flying winemaker angle like Jayson Woodbridge and his Hundred Acre Layer Cake wines?



Parducci's True Grit PS has some wacky blends. 2004 is 98 PS, 2% Viognier; and I think the 2003 was something like 88 PS, 9 S, 3 V

Hail the victor, the king without flaw
Salute your new master ... Petite Sirah!


"Who has two thumbs and loves Petite Sirah?" ThisGuy!

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
andyduncan wrote:So I take it you almost always are mixing in younger fruit? Would/have there be/een situations where you would/have blend/ed older wine in? and why?



Not to often with the older wine. The only situation that I've run across is when blending say a Merlot where you are a vintage ahead of Cabernet and you put a little of the older cab into the merlot for structure.

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
PetiteSirah wrote:Parducci's True Grit PS has some wacky blends. 2004 is 98 PS, 2% Viognier; and I think the 2003 was something like 88 PS, 9 S, 3 V



Viognier with the stronger varietals like PS and SY works great. I've been putting Syrah and Viognier together since 1996 - big fan.

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
andyduncan wrote:So I take it you almost always are mixing in younger fruit? Would/have there be/een situations where you would/have blend/ed older wine in? and why?



Late response to your question, just a minute ago - Had to play 36 wholes of golf yesterday

PetiteSirah


quality posts: 80 Private Messages PetiteSirah
CTmasterblender wrote:Viognier with the stronger varietals like PS and SY works great. I've been putting Syrah and Viognier together since 1996 - big fan.



Could you give us more details on cofermentation and how it differs from fermentation of one varietal?

I know (from Clark Smith) that the S-V cofermentation so common in Cote Rotie and permitted in a few other Rhone regions helps alleviate the copigmentation problems. And the same technique is not uncommon in Washington and Cali.

And Cali field blends seem to have been a tasty (Stags' Leap Ne Cede Malis, TyC, just to name a few), fairly common historically (if less so these days), which, IIRC are fermented together, and have been, often with much less-developed technology and ampelography to distinguish the different grapes in a plot.

But I've also seen some bits of info about how cofermentation is difficult -- e.g., Parker on the Syrah/CS in the Havens 2005 Black and Blue.

What makes a cofermentation difficult (like the Havens CS/Syrah) vs. relatively easy? (please note that I am assuming that common ones, like S-V and traditional cali field blends, are easy, but please correct me if I am wrong!)

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SonomaBouliste


quality posts: 240 Private Messages SonomaBouliste
PetiteSirah wrote:Could you give us more details on cofermentation and how it differs from fermentation of one varietal?

I know (from Clark Smith) that the S-V cofermentation so common in Cote Rotie and permitted in a few other Rhone regions helps alleviate the copigmentation problems. And the same technique is not uncommon in Washington and Cali.

And Cali field blends seem to have been a tasty (Stags' Leap Ne Cede Malis, TyC, just to name a few), fairly common historically (if less so these days), which, IIRC are fermented together, and have been, often with much less-developed technology and ampelography to distinguish the different grapes in a plot.

But I've also seen some bits of info about how cofermentation is difficult -- e.g., Parker on the Syrah/CS in the Havens 2005 Black and Blue.

What makes a cofermentation difficult (like the Havens CS/Syrah) vs. relatively easy? (please note that I am assuming that common ones, like S-V and traditional cali field blends, are easy, but please correct me if I am wrong!)



If I may butt in with my two cents worth, there is no logical reason that co-fermenting Cab and Syrah would be difficult. Parker has, on several occaisions, demonstrated that as much as he knows about wines he knows precious little about winemaking. In my experience, if you're sure you want to blend, the sooner you blend the better the result. Co-fermentations usually have fewer problems with off aromas, go to completion easily, and form more stable tannin-anthocyanin complexes (stable color and structure). The biggest impediment to co-fermentation is not having the different varieties ripen simultaneously - you don't want to include unripe grapes. I believe the TC "Field Blend" was blended later and not co-fermented, because the different varieties don't ripen at the same time.

CTmasterblender


quality posts: 16 Private Messages CTmasterblender
PetiteSirah wrote:Could you give us more details on cofermentation and how it differs from fermentation of one varietal?

I know (from Clark Smith) that the S-V cofermentation so common in Cote Rotie and permitted in a few other Rhone regions helps alleviate the copigmentation problems. And the same technique is not uncommon in Washington and Cali.

And Cali field blends seem to have been a tasty (Stags' Leap Ne Cede Malis, TyC, just to name a few), fairly common historically (if less so these days), which, IIRC are fermented together, and have been, often with much less-developed technology and ampelography to distinguish the different grapes in a plot.

But I've also seen some bits of info about how cofermentation is difficult -- e.g., Parker on the Syrah/CS in the Havens 2005 Black and Blue.

What makes a cofermentation difficult (like the Havens CS/Syrah) vs. relatively easy? (please note that I am assuming that common ones, like S-V and traditional cali field blends, are easy, but please correct me if I am wrong!)



It really is all about the ripening of the fruit. We are blessed here in California with pretty consistent weather where different varietals ripen around the same time. For example, our Gemstone Vineyard Red Wine is a blend of Cab, CF, M and PV, we co-ferment what ever we can each vintage. Usually we are able to grab a few different clones of Cabernet and merlot together or the Franc and Merlot depending on the vintage. To the SY and Cab Question: First, they ripen at a very different time for me, the Syrah is much earlier, sometimes a month ahead of some of the Cabernets. With my Moffett Vineyards Willow’s Blend, a combo of Cabernet, Syrah and Cabernet Franc, none of the varietals seem to ripen at the same time and if they did I would only co-ferment the Cab and CF due to reason two. The second reason, at least with my Syrah Vineyard, is that the wine in its early stage can get pretty reduced and needs more rackings / air early then I would like with my Cabernet. To answer PS question with the Viognier and Syrah, for 8 years at Livingston Moffett we made a Mitchell Vineyard Syrah that had 5% Viognier. I would literally drive my truck over to Miner Family, who we asked to buy a little extra viognier for us, and pick it up after fermentation – a barrel or two. We would then blend it in with our Syrah. I loved this wine out of the gate but then it always seemed to fall into a funk around year 2 or 3 after release. I started thinking this could be due to the Viognier being an already fermented wine and not aging with the Syrah. There is zero proof to this that I know of, but it seemed like the Viognier was going dumb in the wine where when you mix juice you get a single fermentation.