Taste of Wine – Blended Wines: A Winemaker’s Creation


Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.His columns can be viewed atwww.tasteofwinetv.com.He is one of the top wine commentators on the web.Reach him at[email protected].

Frank MangioSince the beginning of my wine writing journey, I have been fascinated with the increasing number of wine blends released by creative winemakers.Such legendary stalwarts as Opus One, Insignia, Rubicon and Isosceles are but a few from respected wine makers inCaliforniawho have replicated the “Bordeaux Style” of classic French wines, that have become more in demand than the French originals.If you are not that familiar with this style, it’s based on the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, a good team player in the wine world, in that it is big-bodied with high tannins, blending well with smaller amounts of flavorful grapes from France, namely Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

Jim Sullivan is the Public Relations Director of the fabled Castello di Amorosa near Calistoga,NapaValley.This is the 13thcentury, 8 story medieval Tuscan-style castle that is a massive 121,000 square foot authentic castle and winery.

Sullivan made me aware of the winery’s new-release “Super Tuscan” style blend, the 2009 La Castellana, in a most unusual way.The blend comes from the estate’s 30 acre vineyard and is made from 70% Cabernet, 15% Merlot and 15% Sangiovese. ( $88. at the winery only)The winemakers at Amorosa know a thing or two about blends.Director of Winemaking Brooks Painter has worked at Robert Mondavi and Stags Leap and last year won Winemaker of the Year at the San Francisco International Competition.Consulting Winemaker Sebastiani Rossa worked inItalywith Sassicaia in Bogheri and Argiano in Montalcino. Given that background, Sullivan laid down the challenge of making my own TASTE OF WINE custom blend for the 2012 “Super Tuscan” La Castellana with three 2012 harvested wine barrel samples of the same grapes used in the 2009:Cabernet, Merlot and Sangiovese.

I needed to create what I thought was a flavorful Italian style blend, ratcheting up the Sangiovese,Tuscany’s native grape.

After several attempts at various combinations, my final base-blend featured 50%Sangiovese. Cabernet came in at 40% and Merlot smoothed out the blend at 10%.We will see if my blend is chosen as the 2012 La Castellana, but we must wait until 2015 when it’s released with3 years more body, flavor, complexity and most important’¦balance. See more atwww.castellodiamorosa.com.