Although we love all the wines we craft, we hold a special place in our hearts for the Scheid Claret Reserve. Our Bordeaux blend receives an inordinate amount of attention, from the specially selected vineyard rows to the careful sorting of the hand-harvested fruit to the finest oak barrels. It is an opportunity for Winemaker Dave Nagengast to use the tools of a vintage to craft a full-bodied, richly flavored wine that is integrated in perfect harmony. Using the five noble Bordeaux varieties, Dave has total freedom to choose and blend the best of the best, influenced only by the unique characteristics of the vintage. Our 2011 Claret is a sophisticated assemblage characterized by concentrated flavors of black currants and ripe plums with notes of leather and cedar. The dense flavors and balanced tannins of this full-bodied wine integrate perfectly for a long, layered finish. Drinking beautifully now, the 2011 is built for cellaring and will continue to develop over the next decade or more.
The vineyard rows for each of the five varieties are chosen and marked at the beginning of the farm year, but we hedge our bets by designating far more for the Claret program then we actually need. These rows are given first-class attention throughout the growing season. Each variety is handpicked at optimum ripeness and maturity and several different lots of each variety are made, often from different vineyards. This gives us a range of options and the luxury of choosing only the very best for inclusion in the final Reserve Claret.
Upon delivery to the winery, the grapes were destemmed, crushed, and fermented in small lots in open top fermenters. Over the next two weeks, the firm cap of skins and seeds that bubble up and form on the surface during red fermentation was gently punched down two times a day. Punching down gives the skins as much contact with the fermenting wine as possible, allowing the color and the phenols from the skins to be transferred to the wine, resulting in rich and complex tannins. The varietals were barreled separately into small oak barrels and aged 34 months before bottling. Throughout the aging process, each barrel was checked weekly and only the most highly rated barrels made it into the finished blend. The final selection was bottled unfiltered to preserve the tannin structure and aromatics. After bottling, the wine was laid down for an additional 26 months before release.