Byington Alliage - Red Meritage 2001
Winemaker Nick deLuca is pursuing something other than just complexity or varietal intensity. Complexity alone can result in a cacophony of flavors, aromas and textures that seek to impress by their sheer number alone. "Intensity." Nick states, "is a virtue, but not the essence of great wine." He believes that subtlety, on the other hand, occurs when intensity and complexity are in balance with all the wine's components. In creating wines of subtlety, Nick believes that "the individual elements yield the most superlative whole when they are similar enough to be sensorially related and different enough to produce perceivable nuances in the glass."
At Byington, we use Bordeaux as a model for our Alliage program (but enjoy the flexibility that the New World affords us), blending the 3 major Bordeaux varietals—Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot—to create a wine that optimizes the best attributes of the vintage. In the winemaking world, there are certain flavors and aromas that are naturally supportive. Old World viticultural practices have provided us with a centuries-tested model of which wine grape varieties enhance, support, and complement each other. Alliage builds on these traditions by combining them with a stylistic flexibility enabled by New World winemaking choices.
The 2001 Alliage is a blend of Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. With regards to future Alliage releases, Nick remarks, "We have no preconceived opinion as to the best proportions of these components, even which one should be the principal one."
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, the best of these are densely hued, fragrant, full of fruit and boast a structure that begs for cellar time. Somm Secret—Blends from Bordeaux are generally earthier compared to those from the New World, which tend to be fruit-dominant.
Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa Valley, the region only produces about half the amount of wine but boasts both tremendous quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.
Sonoma County wines are produced with carefully selected grape varieties to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.