Mixing base wines during the Assemblage process

The process of choosing which lots to combine to create the final blend, known as “assemblage,” is a crucial step in the creation of fine wines.

The fact that some Cuvées may be created from several hundred various components (different vintages, different plots, different grape varietals, different pick-up dates…) plays a critical role in the production of sparkling wine. Here, each component’s ability to work well together is crucial, as is following a given house style for all non-vintage sparkling wines.

In Bordeaux, where numerous Châteaux create their so-called grand vin bearing the château name by choosing and blending only the greatest parcels, assemblage has almost ritualistic significance. Rejected lots can be sold in bulk to a negociant carrying merely the local appellation, or blended together to generate a second wine, and occasionally a third.

The selection group is usually composed of:

  • The proprietor, who must bear the significant financial sacrifice of exclusions for the grand vin, which may sell for three times (or more) the price of the associated second wine,
  • The Maître de Chai (winemaker) who is in charge of initial grapes and juices
  • Any oenologist who regularly works for the property participate in this selection process, which usually takes place between the third and sixth month after harvest (though it can be much later for some wines). Usually, at this point, the choice is made regarding the inclusion of press wine.

How ‘Assemblage’ is carried

Tasting samples from each cuve, tank, or fermentation vessel is standard routine. The panel of tasters then only has to determine if it is good enough for the grand vin. Any combination of wines from the same property is generally thought to be harmonious.

Most other wine regions (particularly Burgundy) have holdings that are too small to support this level of selectivity.

‘Assemblage’ in the New World

This kind of process in the New World probably entails assembling blends with varying character and quality levels. Before choosing the final mixes in this situation, there may be lengthy experiments conducted using small samples of each lot (a process called bench blending). In this case, the winemaker is interested in each lot’s compatibility with other ingredients in the blend in addition to its intrinsic quality.

Follow me on my Social Media

Wine is a gourmet treasure, do not abuse alcohol!

None of this content has been sponsored

I did not receive any gifts or free samples that could be related to this article