Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blending Away With My Cabernet...

Back in August, I was fortunate enough to be one of fifty people able to receive a "Fusebox", for $1.00 plus shipping. (Dead Silence) "What??? What the heck is a Fusebox?" I could just hear it now! Through a special deal on Twitter, I received this beautiful Cabernet blending kit, made by our friends at San Francisco's own Crushpad. Wow! Crushpad is a really cool place where anyone can custom make their own wine! What a great idea! Who wouldn't want a "Fusebox"? Well, maybe someone who doesn't like wine. But that's beside the point. It was a generous deal because normally the kit sells for $79.99. The box arrived at the end of August and last weekend, my friends and I finally got together to do our custom Cabernet blending session.

I've done a fair amount of wine blending in the past. In 2006, I spent an "intoxicating" afternoon blending Zinfandel at a famous Sonoma County winery. I've also made my own Zinfandel, Valpolicella, Riesling and several other varietal wines from concentrates with friends here in town. Crushpad's "Fusebox" is another way to blend your own-- you practice blending and Crushpad does the rest for you when you e-mail them the final formula.

Inside the kit are all the essentials to blend an awesome Cabernet Sauvignon: six half bottles of wine: two were Cabernet Sauvignon, one Merlot, one Cabernet Franc, one Petit Verdot and a "Mystery Wine". There are recipe cards for four of the world's top Cabernet-blends (Chateau Margaux, Chateau Montelena, Chateau Lafite-Rothschild and Dominus.) There is an aroma card, an instruction booklet, four sterile pipettes and a very nice, heavy duty corkscrew with the Crushpad logo etched on it.

We set up our blending session on the dining room table and got everything ready to start. Then we ran into a problem. Two of us had an issue blowing the cotton ball out of the pipette. After nearly a half hour of trying, I ended up breaking the tip off of my pipette otherwise I'd have been there until two in the morning trying to "get 'er done!!" Other than that, things went pretty smoothly. The first thing we did was pour a small amount of each varietal into a glass and examining it for color, aroma, taste etc. then ranking each section with a point scale. It was important to do this so everyone would know how each varietal tasted like alone and what special nuances it would bring to the final blend. Once we accomplished this, then it was on to the blending.

The first recipe, the "Chateau Margaux", was a blend of Cabernet and Merlot. This was my least favorite. The Cabernet Sauvignon alone was very young and sort of earthy and putting Merlot into it didn't help at all. EW! The second recipe, the "Chateau Montelena" was a bit better. The addition of some Cabernet Franc was a big help. The next recipe, "Chateau Lafite-Rothschild", used all the varietals and was far better balanced than the other two. My favorite was the last blend, the "faux" Dominus. It was a dream! So smooth and well-balanced and just lovely!

Once we got the hang of it, we continued on for about the next half hour, blending our own percentages, making mistakes along the way because the pipettes had very small increments of measurement on them. But all in all, it was a good time! Our decision on the best blend was unanimous--we all loved the Dominus enough to want to re-create it as our own. I will be sending the formula to Crushpad later this week so we can customize our own case of wine, even down to the label! Very cool! (Please consult their website below for pricing.)

The last thing we got to do was drink the "Mystery Wine", which was made with all the varietals we tried individually. None of us guessed the blend. We weren't even close. I personally guessed the percentage of one of the smaller varietals, but that was it! I'm not going to give it away. You'll just have to go to www.crushpadwine.com and buy your blending kit. We had a great time doing this and I would recommend the kit for a small party or it's a great educational tool for those who are new to wine. We had a "Newbie" amongst us and she really learned a lot. So go get your "Fusebox" and start having some fun!

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