At Turtle Run, Max’s Small Batch Red’s are our pinnacle in red wine blending.  Nothing is off limits and some barrels are specifically targeted for Max’s Blends and not used for varietal bottlings.  The staff truly enjoys when we have a Max’s Blending Day, as we come up with a style that we want and then blend accordingly, usually with 3-4 versions from which to choose.   Since Max’s 52, Max is old enough to help with the blending, so he did.   I pulled the samples from barrels that I thought he might want in the blend and sure enough, had I done it, the wine would have been different.

So what is Max’s Small Batch Red #65? To set up the story, it’s raining on Sunday, the concert with LB&E is cancelled. Thought I’d start the blending process on Max’s 65. Laura calls Maxwell Pfeiffer. Max flies on over with Lauren. I’m blending away, working off of three barrels: Cab-Merlot 2022, Sangiovese-Cab-Syrah-Mourvedre 2021, and Zin 2021, Labyrinth 2022, Mourvedre 2022, all three barrels designed for future Max’s Small Batch Reds. Catherine comes over and offers up a suggestion. To date, I didn’t know she had that good of a wine palate yet. Montepulciano was a definite plus. We have ideas. Seal the barrels and head out. Monday arrives with Debbie Macy Smith, Janice Vermillion and Laura Pfeiffer. We start blending. Opinions fly. Seriously fly. Too much oak, not enough oak. Fruity yep? Tannins? Check. Too much?
Thinking of Catherine Pfeiffer and her thoughts. Adding Montepulciano. This is pretty dang good. But the Ganzfeld Effect is taking over and we need to table this. We have already blended a serious amount of wine. Tuesday arrives. Scan the vineyard and prune. Come inside. Debbie and Janice are here, ready to go. We taste. It’s good. We did a good job on Monday. Debbie chimes in that the wine is missing that oak. I want another edge to the wine. Grenache? Soundly rejected. Mourvedre 2021? Dysfunctional but not bad. BTW, the Grenache rocks!!! Debbie says something, not sure what at this point. But it made me think of the unthinkable. Chambourcin 2021. I don’t want to touch it. New oak. Sure it’s doing great. Try it, oh yeah. It is that darn good. We already have a good mid-palate in the current blend and this chambourcin is pure mid palate, but its oak…Whoosh. Mention that I was saving this barrel for a triple vintage chambourcin. Eh, screw it. I have more chambourcin barrels. In it goes. Holy mackerel Batman! Now, the wine his high level Pinot esque. BTW, we tasted the potential blend before pulling that barrel and it was awesome. Bingo. It is awesome. Somehow knocked off a little bit of the tannins which I crave, but wow did we set up for complexity. Finally, I look at the tank. GEEZ. That’s a full tank. Jettisoned 3 barrels worth back into oak of the blend for longer aging. Bottled the rest. Which was a lot. Here are the percentages of the varieties in this wine as best as I can figure it. Chambourcin 2021, 20%, Montepulciano 2022 20%, Cab Sauv 2022, 10%, Merlot 2022 10%, Sangiovese 2021 8%, Cab sauv 2021, 2%, Syrah 2021, 4%, Mourvedre 2021, 6%, Zinfandel 2021, 7%, St. Croix 2022, 6%, Mourvedre 2022, 6%, Frontenac 1%. Hopefully that adds up to 100%. Three days of blending. One great wine.


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