Giving Consumers Blending Control
Auckland’s CBD played host to a pop-up winemaking experience in recent weeks. Blend was a Jacob’s Creek-inspired event, inviting the public to blend their own white or red, and take it home.
1,600 people assembled their own wines before it packed up and headed to Sydney. If it’s deemed a success, other cities will get an opportunity to try their hand at blending. “The plan is to move this around [the world],” said Jacob’s Creek chief winemaker Bernard Hickin.
One of the most interesting outcomes of the trial will be the retail launch of two New Zealand-specific blends, created by collating the results from the event. At the launch, head of Pernod Ricard NZ, Fabian Partigliani, explained: “This is a pop-up winemaking experience: you can blend your own wine then we are going to collect the information and find out here in New Zealand what we like compared to the rest of the world and launch two wines – a red and a white.”
There’s no rosé option. The red and white bottling lines specifically designed for this project are kept separately. The bottles are sealed with nitrogen and a screwcap while your name is printed on the back label of the bottle.
Inevitably, the blending components were limited: four white varietals and four red varietals were on offer and some classic blending partners weren’t available. In the whites, you could pick from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato and Pinot Grigio, which tend to be bottled as varietals – they aren’t traditionally viewed as natural blending partners. In the red corner, there was Cabernet and Merlot, Shiraz and Grenache.
I was hoping to do a southern Rhone-inspired blend. My first attempt: 50/50 Grenache Shiraz turned out to be a fruit bomb with no structure. I would have liked to put some Mourvedre or Carignan in to add a bit of structure but the only reasonably tannic options were Merlot and Cabernet, which had a distinctly Australian minty edge to them that I didn’t want in the blend. Alas, the world isn’t perfect. Final blend: 60% Shiraz, 30% Grenache and 10% Cab. The wine ain’t going to win any awards but you go away with a bottle you had a hand in for $20. I’d give my wine a five out of 10 but for consumer experience, it’s a winning 8.5/10
For more information, visit the Blend website.