Brian Carter, Master Blender

In advance of the holidays, a few excerpts from FORKING SEATTLE that can be read as gift suggestions. (Don’t forget: book launch & autograph party on Sunday, Dec. 16th at Seattle Heights in Belltown.)

With the modesty (and self-assurance) of a teenage Mozart sitting at the keyboard in the court of Franz Josef, Brian Carter demonstrates,again and again, his inherent understanding of a wine’s components: sangiovese grapes from Dick Boushey’s vineyard in the heart of the Yakima Valley, cabernet sauvignon from Upland Vineyards on Snipes Mountain, syrah from Olsen Vineyards outside of Prosser. What to do with them? He has an intuitive sense that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts, so he blends. A SuperTuscan called TuttoRosso, for example, of which he bottles a thousand cases and sells for $30 a bottle. A blend of cabernet franc from Dineen Vineyards in the Rattlesnake Hills, a limited release for the Auction of Washington Wines’ Private Barrel Auction. His white blend, Oriana,is viognier topped off with a touch of riesling. Solesce is a blend of traditional Bordeaux varieties, Le Coursier is “Right Bank”with no cabernet sauvignon at all. Byzance is a southern Rhone blend.My personal favorite is Abracadabra, a “magic” blend of syrah, cab sauv, cab franc, sangiovese, petit verdot, grenache, and malbec.