Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blending Wine at Concannon’s Bordeaux by the Bay Event

I got to play wine maker for a couple of hours at the Bordeaux by the Bay event at Concannon Winery in Livermore. The event that features their Bordeaux blends is a tradition for 35 years, but it had a new twist this time – a blending seminar, open to the public, like me. Becoming a winemaker appeals to many of us, and the room was full.

Concannon is one of the oldest wineries in California established 1883 and is a Registered Historic Landmark. The renovated tasting room is over 100 years old. This year, the winery had its 126th consecutive harvest, as it stayed open even during Prohibition, by producing altar wines for the Catholic Church. We were hosted in a private event room in the new brick event center. Our host was Jim Ryan, the Concannon estate manager and the event featured Julian Halasz, Concannon’s winemaker, originally from Hungary, and previously the wine maker at Garre in Livermore.

We were Julian's assistants today, ready to blend a Bordeaux style creation of our own. Before me was a full bottle of Cabernet and four small bottles of different red wine, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot, the traditional Bordeaux blending varietals, and since this was Concannon, known for their Petite Sirah, we had just a bit of that to add more color if we chose. The only requirement was that we had to use at least 75% Cabernet in our blends, so our wine could be labeled as a Cabernet and not a Meritage or simply a red blend. Cabernet was to be the backbone of our wine. Other varietals were supposed to soften, complement, or intensify the wine to suit our taste.