Witches Brew

That really isn’t fair.  The true title should be Uncommon Blends.  What are we talking about? Blending wines.

Now, blended wines are about as common as corks and bottles.  In fact most of the wines you drink are blended even the ones that say “Merlot” or “Cabernet” are usually only 75 to 80 percent single varietal.  US law allows for a wine to be called “Merlot” if 75% of the wine is merlot.  Whites are usually single varietal, but not always examples White Bordeaux, Champagne, Soave, and White Burgundy.  One red, Pinot Noir, is almost never blended.

There are two types of blending.  Non-Vintage blends are blends that combine different vintages (years) of the same wine in order to balance flavors in an effort to make the wines taste the same regardless of the year they are bottle. They are usually labeled NV or non-vintage.  Port and Champagne are great examples.

Vintage blends are where different grapes, all from the same year are blended together.  The blending champ in this category has to be Chateauneuf-du-Pape where 13 different grapes are used.

The common wine blends are;

Red Bordeaux usually Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.

White Bordeaux: Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle

GSM “Rhone” most likely the best most loved blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre

Meritage: Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Carmenere, very similar to a Red Bordeaux.

The newest of the blends the “Super Tuscan” Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Syrah and Cabernet Franc.

Why do we blend?  The obvious answer is to get a better tasting wine.  Blending of different wines allows the winemaker to hide, or diminish the wines weak points and accentuate the wines strong attributes.  The goal is to improve aromas, color, texture, body and ultimately our drinking enjoyment.  Got a wallflower Merlot, add a little Cabernet, and you have a prom queen, or at least you hide the glasses and braces.  There’s a little marketing going on here too.  Compare say Griffy’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 toss in a few other wines and now you have “Irregular Red”, much easier to market. Or not, what an unfortunate name.

The other reason is complexity.  Blended wines are far more interesting to taste. They give you something to think about.  Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a regular Rubik’s cube with so many moving parts. Winemakers can take months of tasting before they settle on the blend.  Creating the perfect blend depends on the characteristics of the years harvest right down to the type of barrels that are being used.

img_2732Okay,  let’s taste our wine The Ink Shed. Our wine is a red blend from Australia.  80 percent Petit Verdot and 20% Shiraz. They could have labeled this one just Petit Verdot and gotten away with it. To say the least this is an uncommon blend.  Petit Verdot usually doesn’t play the starring role in wines.  It is usually an support actor, usually adding richness, color, tannins and flavor to the blend.  If you were to assign a character trait to this grape it would be a “Stiffener” to the main character. As a stand alone wine it’s a hammer.  If you look at the traditional blends listed above Petit Verdot has many Oscars in its supporting roles.

Shiraz or Syrah is also often cast in a supporting role in wine.  In Australia however, it’s a leading man.  We have another hammer here with full fruit punch in both fists.

So, we have  Vincent Cassel starring and Russell Crowe co-starring, we’d expect car chases, and broken glass.  Well, the wine is muscular that’s true.  The Name Ink Shed came from the winemaker Bill Moularadellis who when looking at the wine had someone say “that’s not wine, it’s ink”!  And it is very dark purple.  On the nose you get that dark fruits, very nice bouquet.  Taste is wonderful.  Fruit forward, but not a bomb, all the dark fruit with a hint of spice and pepper.  Complex long finish.  I’d drink it again.

I’m looking for just a Petit Verdot wine, but they are expensive and hard to fine.  And I have a whole big long list of new wine blends just waiting to be explored.  Stay tuned!


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