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Partners in Wine: Blending Day IV

Partners in Wine: Blending Day IV

This is our fourth consecutive year and our fourth round of house blends. The Charcoal Red and Wildcraft White have exceeded our expectations and both have grown into an experience that is shared at dinner tables between families, around our bars with friends, as gifts to loved ones and a product we strongly believe in. Not to mention, this collaboration has allowed us to continue our partnership with a forward thinking Canadian company, that is a leader in their field, Cave Spring Cellars. 

Back in early February, our two teams met at Del's to taste the first batch of new Cave Spring vintages (Images can be viewed here). The session consisted of combining these new wines into what would be the next blend of Charcoal Red 2015 and Wildcraft White 2016. Overall the session went extremely well. We concluded the meeting with 3 potential red blends and 3 potential white blends. One month later, we were invited to Cave Spring’s facility for a blind tasting, after the wines had been blended, bottled and left to develop for a small period. Gabe Demarco, Assistant Winemaker at Cave Spring Cellars, and Rob Miller, Account Manager & Sommelier with The Vine Agency & Cave Spring Cellars, headed the sessions with our team of wine aficionados. 

The Charcoal Team:

Sommelier Brett from The Charcoal Steakhouse

General Manager Cindy and Beverage Manager Lindsay from The Bauer Kitchen

Sommelier David and Supervisor/Bartender Jordan from Wildcraft

If you have ever been curious as to how the process works, it is as simple as blindly tasting three wines and comparing them all in aromatics (smell), mouth feel (taste), and overall experience. For some, it’s a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the flavours, but for more experienced tasters, the process is much more complex. For example, depending on the percentage of blends, adding more or less Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, and Merlot can change the flavour profiles of a red wine drastically. For our team, this could mean changing a certain percentage on the smallest scale to achieve the perfect blend. Having the blind tasting allows for those with complex palettes to not be biased towards one wine or the other. Once tasted, a few rounds of discussion is held, which is then followed by a vote. The blend with the most likes wins. 

This year the team almost unanimously came to the decision on both blends:

Charcoal Red 2015 - 60% Cab Sauv, 25% Cab Franc, 15% Merlot

Wildcraft White 2016 - 65% Riesling, 35% Chardonnay

After the tasting Gabe was kind enough to take the group on a tour of the underbelly of Cave Spring Cellars, or as he put it, “where the magic happens”. Wine Barrels lined the walls, while on the opposite side large fermentation tanks housed the next run of Cave Spring wines. Cold and incredibly clean, the backstage served as a great contrast to the warm and lush vineyards. 

What was particularly interesting about our tour, was their new wastewater treatment facilities, which is the first of its kind in North America! After having a quick peek into the room Gabe explained that the BioGill system, working similarly to a Brita filter, removes 97% of BODs (biological oxygen demand) from the winery’s wastewater used for winemaking. Left untreated the BOD flow into waterways, causing issues for fish and other species. Though Niagara Region’s wastewater treatment facilities would remove the BOD from the water at a cost, Cave Spring is cancelling it out at the source as part of their company’s personal environmental initiative to consistently improve their eco footprint.

We then went up stairs to packaging, catching the team right before their lunch break. It was an ideal scene from the television show 'How It’s Made'. From capping the bottles with the lids, to spinning the labels on the bottles, the machine worked smoothy to produce several cases of wine every few minutes!! 

The day ended with lunch at their in-house restaurant, just a doorway away from their bottle shop. Thank you to the Cave Spring Team for once again welcoming The Charcoal Group into your space. After four years of collaboration, we continue to work well to produce amazing experiences and product for our Guests. We hope for many more blending sessions in the future. 

Before they’re gone be sure to taste the current blends at any one of our Charcoal Group Restaurants. Expect the new blends of Charcoal Red to enter our restaurants in early Summer and Wildcraft White later in the fall. 


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