On Saturday, my Mom, Dad and I took a trip out to wine country. My parents live in Glendale, Queens and with all of our busy schedules we don’t get to hang out too much and spend the day together. This past Saturday was a perfect day and a beautiful one at that out on Long Island. When I knew they were visiting, I knew exactly where to take them. Pindar Vineyards. Whoa, some of you may say. Yes, Pindar; The largest producing vineyard on Long Island, the vineyard that is famous for its winter white and autumn gold. But let me tell you, they will soon be attracting people for some of these well-crafted, beautiful upper tier wines. Look out people; in case you forgot about Pindar Vineyards, they have some great stuff going on there.
This past weekend they had a De-Mystifying Mythology. For those of you who are not aware of what Mythology is, it is Pindar’s top Bordeaux blend. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. The exact amount of this blend is up to the winemaker. This Mythology is not bottled every year, they only save it for special, optimal growing seasons where the fruit ripens and the juice is just perfect.
So for this rare occasion and maybe the first time ever, we had to opportunity to tour the Pindar warehouse, storage facility, barrel room and tank room. This was open to the public as long as you purchased a ticket or was a member of Pindar’s Wine Club.
Les Howard, Pindar’s winemaker, he gave us, about 35 people in total a behind the scene look at what he does and how he comes up with this formula for making the ideal Bordeaux blend.
A little information about a Bordeaux wine. It is from the Bordeaux region in France and is a red wine. It is a blended wine of any combination of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. I does not have to include all, but those are the only ones permitted to go into a true Bordeaux wine. Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon is usually the main grape in the vintage. The components can change from year to year.
Les first had us taste all the components that make up the Mythology, alone from the barrel.
The first offering was the 2008 Merlot: Bright and fruity on then nose. There were elements of cherry, raspberry, and some blueberry. There was a very nice menthol eucalyptus note that was on the palate. There was a lot of acidity on the palate as well, but this was a young wine, only in the barrel about a year.
Next up was the 2008 Cabernet Franc: Black Cherry and smoky bacon on the nose. Very nice structure with racing acidity. It was not too green, only picking up a little mint.
When we had the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon: First thought was Pucker. Very Tannic and a lot of acidity. But once you got past that, I was getting a lot of dried cherry, some cherry cordial. There was some earthiness to it with some black pepper and dried bay leaf.
We then tasted the 2008 Malbec: This had the best nose of the day. Dark Berries and plum filled the glass along with dried cranberries and raisin. It was juicy and delicious. Probably the best balanced wine of the lot. The tannins were soft and the acidity was in balance to bring out the best of this berry. This goes to show you that Malbec can be done as a single varietal on Long Island, because in my opinion, this malbec was almost drinkable now.
Then we taste some 2008 Petite Verdot: This wine was the harshest and the toughest to get down, it had the most tannins and the most acidity. There were some green elements along with the faintest amount of dark fruit, but the color is what is used for this grape. Not as dark as most years, but this is where the color is enhanced in the Mythology.
Next up, we taste some blends that Les put together each with Merlot, Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon being the main varietal. Les is trying to show us that these blends would be far superior to any of the previous varietal’s we just tasted. H was right!
The first blend was Blend #1: This was a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. IT was very fruity, with a great amount of ripe berries. Tobacco and earthy with dried herbs. It was acidic, but remembers this is young and this blend spent no time in oak for aging, only the varietal were aged in oak.
The next blend, Blend #2: was a blend of 50% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. Loads of berries on the nose, blue berry and raspberry. This was more acidic but less tannic than the previous blend. It was tasty and had a very nice finish of some vanilla and caramel. My parents like this one and the other around us like this one.
The next Blend #3: was a blend of 50% cabernet franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% merlot, 10% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot. This was tart cherry and raspberry on the nose. It had a bit of minerality on the nose. This was very acidic, but had soft tannins. It had a clean and short finish and there were notes of cedar at the end.
Now the fun part came…we had the opportunity to make our own Mythology blend. With beaker in hand, calculator, and 375l bottle, we broke off with another couple. The husband and wife team came up with the blend, I did the measuring while my dad was figuring out the correct calculation. We came up with a blend of 50% merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. When we were finished, we poured it all into the 375l bottle and poured each of us a glass. And to no one’s surprise, it was perfect. Cherry up front with some raspberry and dried cranberries, soft supple tannins with a perfect amount of acidity. There was an earthy minerality that was present along with some fresh herbs and some dried herbs as well. We offered Les a try and he did like it, I think he was surprised that it was a merlot based considering I am a Franc Head. But none the less he said in so many words…”now imagine this blended wine aging longer in barrels?” I can, and I wish I could make it happen!
The only change to our numbers would have been to add more Malbec by 10% and less Merlot by 10%, becasue I felt the Malbec was more rounded…or maybe add 5% more Cabernet Franc and 5% more Malbec and take away 10% Merlot, because I loved the ripe cherry of the Franc and the balance of the Malbec…or maybe…this could go on forever! And ass I talked this over with my parents;about the different blends that could really make this a sold wine, my mom said in so many words…”I see a second career, son.”
I hope Pindar does this again and I hope that other wineries consider this. Getting the public information about the behind the scenes work of a vineyard is my job, but when people can actually put their hands on a project like this, I feel it builds a greater appreciation of the wine and people identify with it better. We all know how to cook something, but how many of us really know what goes into that bottle we enjoy so much.
Now, if only I could get my hands on a barrel and some juice…