There’s a new wine in the Kendall-Jackson lineup, one that doesn’t follow the traditional rules: Summation Red. Summation is a renegade blend. We’ve always worked with blends, but this one breaks the rules.
Several of my previous posts discuss the varied and multiple wine lots we work with when crafting a wine; after all, a blend is greater than the sum of its parts. Summation breaks the conventional rules of blending.
We’ll talk about the wine in a second, but first a little wine blending background.
Many wine regions in the world promote blended wines from different grape varieties. In fact, most wines from the “old world” (read: Europe) involve different grape varieties and blends that aren’t ever mentioned on the label. St. Emilion (Bordeaux) means that the wine is grown from grapes approved for that area. The fact that many wines from this region are a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes is a point of trivia that the consumer must discover on his or her own.
In the United States we have a tradition of labeling wines by the variety that they represent. When we do blend different varieties into the same wine, we most often follow convention (read: Old World). I work on several wines that are “Bordeaux blends,” which means they are composed of a blend of wines from different grape varieties that are traditionally grown in Bordeaux. There are five principal varieties from the region: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
Other wines that are derived from common traditional blending include G-S-M wines (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre), traditionally from the Southern Rhone, Syrah-Viognier blends (from Côte Rôtie) and several others.
But when we entertain a blend like Summation we are breaking with convention and blend to suit, not a traditional combination — but a hedonistic preference. I was asked to work on creating a wine that was “non-traditional.” I looked at blending components that I have always worked with and appreciated for their intrinsic differences. In the end, I could “see” a blend that contained the best of many worlds.
The wine we carved out of these raw materials has the plush, round palate of Merlot, structure derived from Cabernet Sauvignon, and high-toned fruit and spice from Zinfandel and Syrah. The one “secret ingredient” I include — if I can call it that — lends an element of juicyness, meatiness and concentration. This is a real outlaw of a variety; one that Southern France banned a century ago, but that has found a home in California, Petite Sirah. I typically blend in 5-10% to make the whole potion come together.
Summation is renegade. Summation is hedonistic. I love making wine like this.