Cellar Ladders

View of The Lineage Collection Cellar.

As the 2020 harvest fast approaches, we are busy in the cellar making our first official evaluations of the 2019 wines. We devote about an hour a day making detailed notes on each barrel in a specific lot, thinking about where that particular barrel may ultimately end up.

The cellar is always full of changing mysteries, and this view of ladders and staircases (Escher-like) reminds us of the ups and downs of all artistic endeavors.

What You Leave Behind – Blending Lineage

Lineage is our most complicated blend; it can comprise five different grapes (the classic Bordeaux varieties) and Cabernet Sauvignon from more than 10 blocks on six vineyards. Aidan, Beth, and I start each year with nearly 150 barrels of wine, and from these, we carve aspirants away until we are down to the very best.

The process starts in a macro way. We taste through barrels from each lot of wine (a lot is created from individual blocks of a variety from a specific site) first to determine if it has the requisite quality to potentially be part of

Blending Team Selfie

the blend. Once we have our lots chosen, we then taste through individual barrels from those lots blind to further refine quality. It is the last few barrels that are always the hardest to say No to.

Blending as post-modern art.

With the 2018 Lineage, our winemaking team has reached a point where we are close to “finalizing” the percentages of each variety in the blend. Finalizing is a somewhat fraught term in that we reserve the right to change the blend up until the point the wine goes into the bottle. At this point, our confidence levels in the quality of the blend and its quality vis á vis previous vintages of Lineage is extremely high. The photo below shows what my butcher paper workspace looks like after a morning of tasting and making blends. We will use this blend base (number F’) and tweak small percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot until we know the blend is as good as it can be.

I’ve written in the past about the idea that making a blend is much like the Michelangelo idea of sculpture…you start with a hunk of rock and keep peeling away material until the statue reveals itself fully formed. Wines are like that too. We take away mostly, getting closer to that early conception of beauty until finally, the “perfect” wine is there in its glory.  Blending is one of those unreversible decisions, like the picking date and the press date, each winemaker faces each year. Ultimately, you will find yourself out of time, where what goes in will stay in, and what you may have wanted to go in will be chalked up to a learning curve.

With all of thinking about blends and all of the mocks blends we make, the truth is that sometimes, as with the 2018 Lineage, it is the wine you leave out of your finest wine that elevates it from very good to superlative.

F-Seq™ Your Way to Greatness!

Now, of course, there have to be gradations of each of these three primary categories, right? We’re comparing a lot of wines to each other…there have to be finer shadings so as to capture the whole panoply of my tasting experience. Voila! There’s ++, +-, ++-, O++, +-+, etc. Totally transparent, yes?

Well, over the 4th of July weekend I was mercilessly skewered for my innocent little system. Some of my winemaking team going so far as to call it ridiculous and stupid. Consequently, I’ve re-thought this whole ratings thing and decided on a much simpler system…

fib imageFrom now on each wine will be given a rating based on the Italian mathematician, Fibonacci’s, Sequence. Found all over nature, the Golden Ratio (based on the Sequence in decimal form) was used by illustrious artists like Da Vinci to define perfection. So my new system has that going for it…the third-party endorsement of one of the greatest artists of all time. It also has size.

The longer the string of numbers…what I call the F-Seq, (ef-seck), the better the wine. So, I had a Zin yesterday…1,1,2. The Chardonnay – 1,1,2,3,5. And, the Cabernet? Brilliant – an F-Seq of 1,1,2,3,5,8,13!

We’re a comparing species; there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Grab some wine, give each one an F-Seq. Grab some apples, forks, carburetors…give them F-Seqs too!!

That’s the beauty of the Steven Mirassou F-Seq System™. The System fits everything, and everything fits the System!

The next time you want to differentiate two of anything, use The F-Seq. My gift to you, free of charge.

100-point Wines!

If no one knows a wine exists, it doesn’t matter how great it may be. When the people who know about that wine are prominent wine critics (and they’re saying nice things about the wines), the megaphone gets larger.

Steve Heimoff, former critic for the Wine Enthusiast and one of the most esteemed wine writers around, called the 2017 Lineage (to which he gave a perfect 100-point score!) in his recent blog post:

I have…my notes of the tens of thousands of California Cabs and blends I tasted in my career. And frankly, none have been better. A huge achievement, both for Steven Kent and for the Livermore Valley to which he has been dedicated for so long. Score: 100 points.

Thanks for the kind words, Steve.

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