WHAT: I have this mental picture of mad scientists cackling and rubbing their hands as they pour liquids from beaker to beaker in the lab. You can almost hear them: “Igor, come quickly, I have created the perfect blend!”
I’m not thinking about Dr. Frankenstein and his creation, but something much more approachable: today’s wine blends.
We live in a time when all kinds of new combinations are coming to market, and that’s a good thing. Good winemakers can pull together all kinds of varietals to create a wine that suits their tastes, and ours.
The Geyser Peak Uncensored Red Blend 2011 is a great example of this new creativity. It is composed of eight varietals, many of which usually don’t show up in the same bottle. Some of them you might never have heard of.
The end result is heavenly. It’s nice to try something besides Cab, Zin, Pinot, even though I love all those wines. Single varietal wines have to come from great vineyards to be good, especially if it’s a single vineyard wine. If there is a flaw in the grape, even a minor one, it’s hard to overcome that.
A rich blend like this takes something from each wine to create a rounded, balanced wine. A defect in one grape can be fixed with one of the other grapes. The Geyser Peak winemaker has done such a good job with Uncensored it’s difficult to find a fault in the wine.
It’s a deep purple in the glass with plum, blackberry and spice aromas. It is a medium-bodied wine, with soft, fruity tastes, full of raspberry, blueberry and a touch of chocolate. The wine is complex, with different flavors unfolding with each sip. The finish is long and velvety.
The blend is Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Petit Verdot and Zinfandel. It is unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted, and it is very good. Geyser Peak also produces an Uncensored White from five varietals.
The winery says it made Uncensored “to push the boundaries of tradition aside – without the legal and traditional blending restrictions, we use our palates as our guide to craft a wine exclusively on the merits of each blend component and season to taste with our spice rack of lesser-known but highly deserving of recognition varietals.”
This wine is ready to drink now. It might improve in the bottle for a couple of years, but I wouldn’t cellar it for long.
WINERY: Geyser Peak Winery is one of California’s oldest and most renowned wineries, founded in 1880 by Augusta Quitzow, a pioneer in Sonoma County winemaking. He chose the winery site overlooking Geyserville for its views of the Geysers Geothermal area. White steam billows from geysers along the mountain slopes, providing a spectacular view.
The winery endured ups and downs, closing twice due to bankruptcies in 1908 and 1945. In the 1980s the winery moved away from boxed wines to high quality wines that could compete on the world stage.
The Australian wine company Penfolds bought an interest in the company in 1989 and later the Australian-based Accolade Wines bought the company. Accolade owns many well-known brands around the world, including XYZin, Hardys and Banrock Station.
Today, under the direction of winemaker Ondine Chattan, it continues to be one of California’s most lauded wineries, consistently recognized through awards and praise for its wines.
The winery owns 220 acres of vineyards and buys fruit from other growers. It produces a variety of wines in several price ranges. There are a number of varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc as well as many blends.
For many blends the winemaker sources from several small lots and ferments each lot separately before blending. Each vintage allows the winemaker to create a new blend.
The top of the line is the Reserve series, using the best grapes from the finest vineyards. The company also is releasing two new red blends, Tectonic and Devil’s Inkstand, plus a Pinot Noir called Pluto’s Fury.
The winery is committed to sustainable farming and eco-friendly bottling practices.
The visitor center boasts panoramic views of the Alexander Valley from picnic patios nestled in a lush garden setting.
GOES WITH: This wine is blended to match a variety of foods. It turned out to be the perfect wine for spicy food.
My wife, Teri, and I had it with homemade chili and hot wings.
The lush fruit and mellow tannins put out the fire in the chili and wings and provided a nice counter-balance to the spices.
I think it would pair well with things like jambalaya, steak burritos, hamburgers, pizza, pulled pork or pasta with a tomato sauce.