08 April 2015

Blending Athena at Kilikanoon

Here's my account of the most important day during my work at Kilikanoon during the 2013 vintage!
We are making a GSM from the Clare Valley from 2012 juice; The Medley was Clare Valley fruit in the past, and the 2012 is going to be Barossa.  Which meant that I got to pick some pretty awesome wine to incorporate into a wine to showcase Clare and Kilikanoon!
This wine will hereafter be called Killerman's Run GSM, but I got to name the inaugural bottling:

This lineup is the Grenache available for the wine.  Kilikanoon barrels each vineyard picking separately (my preferred mode of transportation) so that decisions can be made much more judiciously down the road.  I've barrel tasted these during the vintage before, but this had more stress attached, since it's about to go into a bottle!!  Kevin and i first tasted through and picked out the top barrel (for The Duke) and the single vineyard tier (The Prodigal) -- once we'd taken the top two barrels, the world was my oyster.  There is some killer juice in this lineup!!  I had a hard time making a final decision, so I was forced to taste blind... and then it was easy! Yummy Grenache = done.

Here are our barrel samples of Shiraz available for the blend.  Head winemaker Katie had them all pulled for us--while the Grenache is aged for a year in stainless steel to preserve its freshness, the Syrah rests in French oak barrels for a year to allow a tiny amount of oxygen in, rounding and mellowing the wine.  We will put the wine back in oak for 6 months after blending to fully coax out the flavors and meld the 3 different wines together.  There will also be a single parcel of Mourvedre.

Hard at work, testing out all the individual parcels.  It's quite different, this tasting barrels as opposed to finished wines.  They are far more rough and rowdy than the finished product, but it's fun once you get used to how brash and intense they are.  It's like flexing a muscle to pop in and try some; imagining what they will taste like in 2, 5, 10, or 20 years is exciting and a task I appreciate honing.
I love our splatter of huge Shiraz sprinkled from our carefully measured 100 cl cylinders!

With the man himself.  This is after we had finally made the decisions of what was going to go into the bottle.  We had had to stop for a cold beer at some point because our palates were so tired--this was a 3 1/2 hour tasting session where the goal was to pinpoint minute differences in huge, gritty barrel samples of bold wine!  It was fatiguing.  And our lips were pretty black (no closeups please!)

I call this one "giddy exhaustion with my friend, mentor, and hero after a successful blending day"

Time for killer great pizza down the road--which tasted better than anything ever after this day...

Am I in Spain?  No. A pizza joint in the Clare Valley with awesome Kilikanoon employees.

And here's a wine I'd never seen before: Prophecy by Kilikanoon.  Because: Kilikanoon, of course.
Check out the '12 Athena where available! We made 500 cases, and 200 came into the USA.  It actually won the Decanter award for top Rhone blend under 15 pounds, proving once and for all that Kevin was looking out for me, making sure I didn't ruin it! And that the wine's in the vineyard.