A fresh cup of coffee, a quick browse through the news, a jog through the warming summer air--at this time of year, these are all things best enjoyed in the morning. At Telaya, we spend our mornings enjoying something else: our wines. However, we don’t really think of this as day drinking. We’ve got a business to run, and sampling in the morning ensures our tasting is as effective as possible.
Why Taste in The Morning?
It’s important to taste early in the morning because the palate is cleanest right after waking up. A fresh palate is so vital to the process that we forego food and drink on tasting mornings. This especially means no coffee, and that alone scares most people off from morning tastings.
What We Do
We take a couple approaches to tasting. First, there’s the check-in tasting, which we do to make sure wines overall are tasting correct. This is just a chance to check in and make sure all that chemistry going on in the barrel is on the right track.
But the more investigative tasting happens when we’re blending, which is a three- or four-day process. (That’s right, three or four days without coffee OR breakfast!) Telaya follows a specific blending process.
First, we blend our Wine Club Only wine. We usually already have an idea of what the end product will be going into the blending, but we rehash final details and perform quality control to make a final decision. This tasting gets us all in the same room together to verify, “Yes, this is the blend we’re agreeing on, and yes, this is the taste we set out to achieve.”
Second, we blend our Turas. The Turas is our flagship blend, and always starts with at least 50% Syrah. That leaves us 50% for experimentation and incorporating components of other wines to reach a balanced flavor. We’re always looking for ways to keep the Turas current while honoring its history and referencing the traditional flavor profile that defines Telaya.
Then, we go through lot by lot to taste what’s left in the barrels to see what fits together to produce our varietals (Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre, etc.). We assess the strengths of each barrel, then determine if bringing two barrels together will enhance elements in each. Our goal is cohesion across barrels.
Along the way, we take the time to work out what we like about individual barrels. As a group, we discuss what a certain barrel may be lacking in comparison to another. Often bringing the wines in two barrels with different strengths and weaknesses results in a complete and coherent union. But other times bringing together fundamentally different barrels that have undergone different processes results in a clash. We keep an open mind as we taste, allowing for the wine to surprise us. But sometimes the tastes of free-run and press-run, or new oak and used oak, or tannic and fruity wine just compete with each other in unpleasing ways.
Nevertheless, experimentation in blending and bringing together varietals from different barrels can produce exciting, complex wines. This tasting period gives us an occasion to utilize all our wines in stock, and we rarely have any left over. If we do, we go back and see if it will fit into one of our blends.
We can all agree that no morning caffeine rush can compete with the satisfaction of forging new wines. After all, coffee takes a few minutes to make; a perfect wine takes years.
Everyone Spits, a note:
Tipsy testing is a no-go! No one drinks all the wine they taste, and nearly all wine tasted is spat out. Even with spitting, a portion of alcohol enters the bloodstream through the capillaries of the mouth, which is why we only taste for a few hours before eating a well deserved lunch and don’t start tasting again until the next day.