A behind-the-scenes look at our 2009 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red blend.
Even before fermentation of the 2009 vintage is complete, our team begins ranking the more than 40 lots that will become the Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red and Jayson Red blends (lot samples pictured here in our lab). This ranking process continues for half the wine’s life in barrel. As they home in on top lots, they create a hierarchy of Pahlmeyer and Jayson lots - as well as “limbo lots” which haven’t yet proven themselves to be of Pahlmeyer quality, but have potential.
To create 2009 Proprietary Red, the team begins by first determining the optimal blend for each component - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and “the blenders”: Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
Next up: Experimentation with various proportions of each variety. Throughout this process, hundreds of blends are evaluated and recorded. Here Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec are combined in the following ratio: 82:7:7:3:1 and mixed before tasting.
Although this blend has received the highest marks thus far, to ensure it’s the absolute best, the team “boxes it in” by testing blends with minute differences. In this instance a one percent change in the Cabernet Sauvignon ratio is evaluated for its effect on the overall blend - now calibrated to: 81:7.4:7.4:3.2:1 and 83:6.6:6.6:2.8:1
Each incremental shift creates a new test blend. Here, five test blends are numbered, with the corresponding number affixed to the bottom of each glass. The glasses are randomly shuffled so the tasting remains blind.
Once each blend has been ranked and the top choice determined, the team runs the identical test multiple times to ensure a consistent conclusion.
Blends are tasted immediately after their aromatics are released, and also after the wine is exposed to air for several hours. This gives the team confidence that the blend is optimal when it is released in two years, and after aging for a decade or more.
At the conclusion of a final test, the earlier top ranked blend is selected once again, assuring that after meticulous sensory evaluation and detailed recording of literally hundreds of test blends, the best blend has been created.
The winning composition for the 2009 Proprietary Red: 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec.
At Pahlmeyer, wines are made in the vineyard and through a meticulous process we call "blendmaking." Journey inside the Pahlmeyer blendmaking process with this slideshow.