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Wine blending seminar to have limited seating

By Staff
Jan. 23, 2002
Monday was a good news/bad news day.
Norm Rush, the distributor who will conduct the Jan. 31 blending seminar, phoned to say the blending kits of pure cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, petite verdot, merlot and malbec were on their way by air so they will definitely be here for the tasting. That was the good news.
The bad news was there was only enough wine for 50 places. Since 30 had already been reserved by that day, we are running out of seats at the table. We have been trying to call some of our regulars who come to the tasting every month. If you are one and we miss you, please call 482-0930 and make your reservation. We have no wiggle room for this event.
If you are not a regular but would still like to come, the same suggestion holds true. While spaces are available reserve your space because this is going to be a fun event.
What you might know
Most wine drinkers are familiar with cabernet sauvignon, merlot and even cabernet franc grapes. But the inclusion of petite verdot and malbec have caused several "what in the heck are they" questions.
Petit verdot is a grape that is popular in France. It is used in Bordeaux. It ripens late and is used in blending to bring acidity to wines that in the winemaker's opinion lack the proper balance. This produces a wine with character, very tannic but long lived in the bottle. It isn't as popular as it was years ago. Modern techniques have been discovered to balance wines without the trial and error method. But it is still a part of many Bordeaux wineries which seek to give distinctive individual personalities to their wines.
It is used in wines made in California for its color and fruit character. Also, it gives longer life to wines which otherwise might fade in only a very few years.
Malbec is a more popular grape that is grown in most countries around the world. It is another blending grape in Bordeaux, used to give French wines color and tannin. It is primarily a black grape with a very thick skin, thus its ability to impart those qualities. If this isn't too confusing, a variety which is a white grape is grown in Alsace.
The wine is used extensively in South America as a grape for itself. The malbec wines I have tasted lack depth, although the flavor is pronounced and the life expectancy is obviously long.
The same grape in California's warm climate tends to be deep colored with fruit that is softer than in other areas. It likes clay soils which can be found in various areas of that state. When California wine makers blend in small quantities of malbec, it is to soften their wine and add a somewhat spicy quality.
One of the problems with the malbec grape is that it has been around so long, and in so many different areas, it has more than 30 names. The pressac, auxerrois, balouzet, cot, estrangey and grifforin are all the same grape, the malbec.
Worth remembering
You might want to remember this at the blending seminar. Petit verdot for acidity and tannin; malbec for color and also tannin.
You might also think about this when working with the cabernet franc grape. It is very aromatic and adds to the bouquet of the wines with which it is blendedbut Rush will almost certainly point that out at the tasting.
The price per reservation is $25. You must make a reservation because of limited seating. The tasting will be at Northwood Country Club starting at 6:30 p.m. You need not be a member of the club to attend the wine tastings but you do need to phone 482-0930. Make your checks payable to Wines Unlimited.
We've never had a tasting like this one before and probably will never have the opportunity again. A combination of pleasure and knowledge. Figure in another plus. Fun.