Kendall-Jackson Blog > Wine Education > Finalizing the Grand Reserve Cabernet Blend

Finalizing the Grand Reserve Cabernet Blend

GR Cab Hero_web

Blending is one of my favorite parts of being a winemaker.  Working with an array of different wines from multiple blocks, sites and elevations is an awe-inspiring task. I love every minute of it.

In fact, at the winery, my team has been preparing to make the 2010 Grand Reserve Cabernet blend. After many component tastings and blending trials, the KJ All-Star Bordeaux team (made up of Winemaster Randy Ullom, myself, and two of our talented Assistant Winemakers) has come up with our final blend for this vintage — and it’s a real head-turner.

The Grand Reserve Cabernet has been focused on Sonoma County for several years now, and the blend is comprised of two lynchpin vineyards. The first, Alexander Mountain Estate, is a phenomenal property with vineyards planted high above the Alexander Valley.  Many of the blocks that we harvest for Grand Reserve come from 1500-2200 feet of elevation. The second site, which we refer to as the Trace Ridge vineyard, is in Knights Valley. I am truly fortunate to work with such phenomenal grapes from our estate vineyards.

In addition to Cabernet from these two sites, the new blend also includes a significant amount of Malbec and Petit Verdot. I love using these traditional Bordeaux varieties in the Cabernet blend.

Malbec brings aromatic complexity, typically contributing floral notes and white pepper. It can also provide intensely rich fruit and chocolate-like richness. Petit Verdot is a stunner.  It is so dense and powerful that we rarely would consider bottling it as a single variety. Our Petit Verdots add color, weight and length to the overall blend.

When we are working on the finished blend, I always find a core of Cabernet that represents the soul of the wine. Then, I look at adding these blenders as additional layers of complexity. I set up blending series so that my team and I can evaluate the precise effect that these additions have on the character of the wine. Usually, we will look at small, incremental additions (1% each) of these blenders until we find the point where they magically contribute complexity to the blend without changing that original character.

It may be hard to imagine, but we can truly see the change in the wine even at such a small amount. So what is the final blend, you might ask? Here are the “stats” for the 2010 Grand Reserve Cabernet:

91% Cabernet Sauvignon
5% Malbec
3.5% Petit Verdot
0.5% Cabernet Franc

Cheers.

CATEGORY: Wine Education, Winemaker

  • Jim

    What does the small percentage of Cabernet Franc add to the blend?
    Jim

    • Winemaker Matt

      Jim, thanks for asking. Excessive heat would be prolonged periods with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit combined with humidity levels below 20%. These are extremely difficult conditions for plants to endure.

    • Winemaker Matt

      Good question Jim. For me, blending a small amount of another grape into the Cabernet is all about adding complexity. I set up trials where I explore the addition of increasing amounts of a blender (1-5%) most often, to see how the blend might be enhanced by the addition without changing its core character as Cabernet.

      Cabernet Franc, specifically, can add perfume or different aromatics. Also, it can provide a different quality of tannins that can help to round out the palate.

      Thanks for asking!

VISIT US

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens
5007 Fulton Road
Fulton, CA 95439
866.287.9818
Partake by KJ
241 Healdsburg Ave
Healdsburg, CA 95448
707.433.6000

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Email: kjwines@kj.com
Toll Free: 800.769.3649
Careers
Store Locator
Shipping Policy
Site Map
Trade

JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

Add your email address below to stay up-to-date with Kendall-Jackson wines, future releases and events.

K-J COMMUNITY

© 2013. Kendall-Jackson Santa Rosa, CA. All Rights Reserved