This first week of the New Year, as is our custom, we started blending trials for the 2016 Reds. We have some great material to work with as the ripeness and quality of the grapes was the best in recent memory.
We started with Avenius Vineyard as there are fewer barrels than Hardscrabble and therefor it is a bit easier to have a sense of accomplishment early on. Immediately we (Shari Avenius, Jonathan Weber and Jim Law) were unanimous about a blend that was majority Merlot. This was no surprise given that these were some of the best Merlot grapes I have ever tasted. We confirmed our decision by tasting several other flights with the favored blend included. Each time the preference was unanimous. We then proceeded to the fine tuning of including small amounts of Avenius press wine into the blend. This can add an extra dimension of complexity and density. Unfortunately there was not consensus, as the Merlot press wine contributed rusticity and the Cabernet Sauvignon contributed a hard acidity. After many attempts at different iterations we decided to stop for the time being and try again at a later date.
Next was Hardscrabble. This is a very powerful wine that was in a very awkward stage. Its tannins are pretty unforgiving right now. Much of the Cabernet Sauvignon is in new barrels and has yet to fully absorb the oak impact. Long story short, we decided to give the wines another month and then re-visit.