The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2016

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Page 52 of 148

52  /  the tasting panel  / january-february 2016 BLENDS V oulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? It was the phrase heard 'round the world—a provocative French invitation to engage in a night with no boundaries. The Ménage à Trois brand playfully ups the ante with its trio of intimate red blends from the California coast just in time for Valentine's Day. Last fall, Ménage à Trois Silk joined Ménage à Trois Red and Ménage à Trois Midnight in the lineup of red blends. Seductive and soft, sexy and smooth, Silk is a full-bodied delight, brimming with bright red fruit and a smooth mouthfeel. Soft (like silk), this blend is a perfectly balanced triple threat of 70% Pinot Noir, 20% Malbec and 10% Petite Sirah. "Ménage à Trois Silk was a great addition to our portfolio because it is the complete opposite side of the Red Blend spectrum—the softer side—with Ménage à Trois Midnight on the dark side," says Mark Dunlea, Ménage à Trois Director of Marketing. That spectrum ranges from dark roasted coffee and dark chocolate on the Midnight end to medium oak and ripe fruit in the Red offering, to Silk, which "our winemaking team then decided to experiment in the softer side of red blends, which is the creation of Ménage à Trois Silk; a finesse, soft and delicate red blend," he continues. "Similar to the Chardonnay category, there are oaked Chardonnays and unoaked Chardonnays." Grapes for Ménage à Trois Silk are harvested on cool nights from marine-influenced vineyards in California's Central Coast, North Coast and Lodi-Delta appellations. Pre- fermentation cold soaking and gentle pressing contribute to a smooth, delicate texture with supple tannins. A bright red hue and nose of dried flowers and fresh berries are accented by the spice derived from French and American oak integrated during fermentation. The winemaking team drives the Ménage à Trois brand, expressing creativity as well as showcasing the terroir of various regions. Glenn Andrade, Ménage à Trois Senior VP of Winemaking, explains the creative process: "Immediately we felt that Pinot Noir has to be the lead varietal. We fell in love with Malbec, from our recent har- vests in Argentina, but Malbec grown in California is quite different from that in Argentina. It is a much less tannic and we felt it would be a perfect complement to Pinot Noir in this blend. Finally, we cap the blend off with a splash of Petite Sirah to add color and enhance the palate weight. When we first tasted the blend, we thought: here are three varietals you would not normally put together, but when we did, it created a perfect Ménage." These value-driven Ménage à Trois wines are approach- able for the consumer seeking something to please the palate—"the residual sugar component drives the approachability in these domestic red blends," states Dunlea—and the wallet, with each wine falling into the $10-$15 range. The elements evoked by the soft flavor notes of Silk are equally welcome on a romantic endeavor—rich Bing cherries, delicate raspberries and luscious red roses. Just invite a lover (or two!) to join. Tasting Notes Ménage à Trois 2013 "Silk,"California ($14) Unusual bedfellows are blended together for a distinct bouquet of brandied cherries, plums and chocolate. The combination of Pinot Noir, Malbec and Petite Sirah add dimensions of texture and taste. This is a modernist wine, not dry and not sweet, but dense, dusky, ripe and luxurious. The inherent juiciness has power and a gliding grace. Devil's food cake, wild cherry and charred cedar (sweet, spicy American oak and luxe French oak) round out this dark purple-red fruit compote effect. 90 —Meridith May The other red blends in the brand's portfolio: Ménage à Trois Red and Ménage à Trois Midnight. MÉNAGE À TROIS RED WINE BLENDS FLIRT WITH PALATES by Becky Tsadik Red, Red Wine

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