Mad Scientist

Wine Tasting Tell All


Ever since I was a young boy (and at this stage of my life, that's hard to remember) I had an urge and desire to dabble in science.  I would get my chemicals. beakers and eye droppers (do you know that those are?) all put together and start my experiments.

I loved to see what I could create.  To the delight of my parents I'm sure, I never created anything that exploded or caused bodily harm.  I did break a few test tubes and had my share of "what the heck did I just make" moments, but I still stayed fascinated by what you could do by mixing a few things together.

For the third time in my wine career I had the opportunity to do just that.  A selection of base wines (Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot) to choose from to concoct my own wine blend.  Mad Scientist 101!


This time it is wine coming from a slightly different area of the world.  Previously, it had been California, this time it was from Argentina.  For this particular seminar and tasting we were introduced to the wines coming from the vineyards of Susana Balbo.  Located in the Lujan de Cuyo region (Mendoza), Susana started her winery back in 1999.  Of historical interest is that Susana was the first female enologist in the history of Argentine winemaking, and has received numerous awards since then.

I'm no stranger to her wines, which include her Signature series (Susana Balbo) as well as her Crios (slang for offspring), BenMarco and Nosotros (a single vineyard Malbec).  Known for quality wines selling through a range of prices.

This particular evening we sampled her Signature Series Malbec and Cabernet along with the BenMarco Expresivo the Nosotros and her Signature Brioso (a blend of four varietals, Cab, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot).  While all of the wines were excellent, I had to give my nod to her 2014 Signature Cabernet.  A tad bit more tannin than the Malbec and slightly darker fruit with a dusty note thrown in along with a great price to quality at $20 a bottle made it my winner.  For those wishing a slightly smoother wine, the 2015 Signature Malbec would be my choice for you.  Both wines reviewed well with Wine Advocate rating the Cab at 92 Points and the Malbec at 91.

In the effort of brevity (like I really couldn't sit here and punch out hours more), I will move on to the blending portion of the show....

Four wines sit in front of me, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot.  I flashback to my days as a youngster (that's no easy feat mind you), ready to bring out that mad scientist in me to begin my experiment.  First I sip each wine, savoring the elements that each will bring to my final mix.  Knowing from my previous blending seminars just how little a particular varietal can change the final wine.

The Cab Franc is my favorite, so it gets top billing in the mix.  I also love the fruit that the Malbec can add, so it has to be up there as well.  The cab will add a little of that dusty earthiness with Petit Verdot adding body.  Knowing there is a lot on the line as it's been announced that the winner of the blends will receive a surprise reward.

So begins my laborious task of mixing and sampling and mixing again and tasting again.  Don't worry, the tasting part makes all this work worth it!  Once again, in the interest of not boring you to death, I settled on a blend of 33% each of the Cab Franc and Malbec with 16% each of the Cabernet and Petit Verdot.  I know that only equals 98%, but come on, I did a little rounding to make it easier.

Personally, I think I made one heck of a wine.  Big juicy with great spice notes and a touch of that earthiness ending with a long finish.  99 Points easily!!  I would give it 100 but I don't want to seem snobbish or self-serving.

What did the judge think?  Let's just say I didn't come away with any "surprises."  I think I should have called for a recount or something.  I was robbed!

A shoutout and big thanks to Kendra at Susana Balbo Wines and Brooke from Folio Fine Wine Partners for bringing this event to our area.  I had a great time as I know that everyone there did as well.

If you need a wine for the evening, make sure you check out the wines from Susana Balbo, you won't regret it.