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Blending Beginnings

It’s not easy to imagine today, when blended wines seem to have a near monopoly over the pinnacle positions of Napa Valley winery portfolios, but proprietary blends haven’t always reigned supreme here.

When Clos du Val was founded in 1972, the consensus amongst Napa Valley winemakers was that 100% single-varietal wines were best at showcasing the full, rich power and concentration of this up-and-coming terroir.

Our founding winemaker, Bernard Portet, had a different idea. Hailing from Bordeaux, he knew that a carefully composed palette of varietals was a valuable tool in the creation of elegant, balanced, and nuanced wines. When our 1972 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon gained acclaim on the world stage, it was clear that he was onto something.

While our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has always been – you guessed it – Cabernet Sauvignon-driven, showcasing the structure and power associated with the varietal, we also incorporate secondary players Cabernet Franc (for aromatics and finesse), Merlot (for opulence and freshness), and on occasion, small lots of other Bordeaux varietals for balance and complexity.

Last week, Carmel finished tasting each barrel of the 2021 red wines in our cellar and planned a few potential blends for the 2021 Napa Valley Cabernet. This week, we began blending trials for this wine.

Audrey, our lab technician, first created single-bottle versions of a handful of potential blends. Carmel and Assistant Winemaker, J.P., then sat down to taste, evaluate and adjust the different blends.

Soon, the final blend will be determined, and the winning combination for the 2021 Napa Valley Cabernet will be one step closer to your glass.

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