This is the final post in a three part series on wine blends.
I’ve been enjoying all kinds of wine blends over the past few weeks and have been canvassing folks about wine blends in general. While its not earth-shattering to hear what people think it interesting to note that everyone does at least have an opinion. Most agree that blends are very popular today due to a number of factors.
Economics and price seems to be the number one reason that blends (especially red blends) are back in style. See Dan Berger’s recent article in the Press Democrat. When juice is available after varietal wines are made, it makes sense for a winery to create a proprietary blend. With pricing being a factor, these wines may be an introduction of sorts to new customers who can then step up to other wines.
This is a great opportunity and a win/win for the winery and the consumer. The consumer is rewarded with a product that is well made from excellent fruit sources at a great price; and in many cases by a name brand. The winery uses product they have to create the blend and the winemaker gets to apply their artistry through the blending process and place a personal stamp on the wine. This isn’t to say that wine blends are all price driven, but it is a noticeable trend proven by the increase in wineries now offering a signature blend.
For this final post on blending I asked three wine friends to send me their thoughts on wine blends and here is what they had to say:
Josh Wade, Drink Nectar, Spokane Wine Magazine
Wine blends are fun! Blends give the winemaker a chance to experiment, become a mad scientist if you will. I talk to winemakers who enjoy the process of picking the best parts of each vintage and spending hours doing taste trials. “Does 6% Carmenere give it that exotic spice that I’m after?” I really enjoy seeing a quality blend that marries the best of each fruit. There is a reason that Bordeaux blends are copied so much. The marriage between Cab, Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot is amazing. Some of those fruits on their own can be great, but if done well, together they are blissful.
Blends do pose a challenge for consumers, however. Some winemaker’s proprietary blends change from year to year leaving the consumer without a consistent expectation. Over time a wine drinker learns the distinct characteristics of a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Riesling. Blend X just doesn’t give them that reliability…but…experimenting is half the fun!
Shona Milne, Woodinville Wine Update
I love blends! I’ve been a blend girl for quite some time. I think what I like about blends is that it can add complexity and flavor to a wine. My favorite blend is the classic Bordeaux blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. You just can’t go wrong with blending these five varietals. I think blends have become more popular in recent years as people are interested in trying different types of wine and the blends give them that opportunity without making a huge commitment to a particular grape. I think it makes for great adventures in wine tasting. Even if you like a particular winemakers blend it is probably going to change each year depending on the harvest and quality of the grapes. You just have to keep trying more wine, it’s never the same.
Robin Rutz, All About Washington Wines Blog
Blends are without a doubt my favorite wine, basically my go to wine. Even if they weren’t, I’d have a problem, since I would say about 75% of my wine collection consists of blends. They’re just the type of wines that I’m drawn to.
While some may consider blends to be secondary to a full fledged varietal, to me they’re the equivalent of an all star team, bring the best of the best together and let the magic happen. Don’t get me wrong, I love single varietal wines as well, but blends just hold a special place in my heart and palate. By taking a unique combination of varietals and putting them together in their own way, the creativity of the winemaker is really showcased.
Some of what we’ve been drinking lately includes: a new very limited release from DiStefano, called Sigaro. Sigaro is a blend of Syrah and Grenache and was created to blend with cigars, a love of owner Mark Newton. We discovered this unique wine at a Wine/Cigar dinner at DiStefano, it was a fabulous wine and concept. D2 from DeLille Cellars is a perennial favorite as well, Bordeaux style blends were my first introduction to blends and I love them. I’ve also become increasingly enraptured with Rhone style blends, like the Sigaro.
Blended wines are complex and unique and have earned a well deserved spot at the “big kids” table. Enjoy!
BLEND is your opportunity to taste through more than 100 wine blends, meet winemakers and discuss perspectives. Nine chefs will be serving up gourmet cuisine including salmon, beef, lamb, pork, lobster sandwiches, vegetable pizzas, desserts and more. Start with a refreshing glass of bubbly and artisanal cheeses, then wind your way around to visit the chefs and get a glimpse of each of the unique boutique properties they belong to. Maybe you’ll be the lucky one who wins the 5 night stay in Portugal or a 2 night stay at the Salish Lodge. Wine geeks and info seekers should check out the two hands on blending seminars. Proceeds benefit the Washington Wine Industry Foundation.