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."
While Sonoma County is acclaimed—and rightfully so—for its Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Zinfandels, it also produces exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. Of the region’s 18 American Viticultural Areas, only a handful produce top-notch Cabernet Sauvignon. These appellations include Alexander Valley, Knights Valley, Sonoma Valley and Dry Creek Valley. Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignons made in these appellations can offer a complex array of aromas and flavors. Fruit notes such as blackberry, blackcurrant, cassis, black cherry and raspberry often are accompanied by hints of graphite, dusty earth, cigar box, toast and vanilla. The varietal has a rich history in Sonoma, and some of these Cabernet Sauvignons and Cabernet-based blends rival the best from Napa Valley.