Wine blends have gotten a bad rap over the years. Terms such as bottom of the barrel or wine leftovers come to mind. Though this may be the case in certain wine blends, it is not how the majority of winemakers view these wines. In fact, some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive wines are blends; additionally, some wines that you are drinking may be blends without you knowing it.
Blending varietals can make for a more complex wine. It can improve a wine’s color, aroma and body creating a more balanced and intricate wine. While one varietal, let’s say Merlot, expresses great fruit on the nose and front palate, it has softer tannins and a lighter finish. Another varietal such as Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied with great earth and leather characteristics and bold grippy tannins that create a long structured finish. Though both varietals can stand alone to make great wines, they can become more complex by adding one to the other to fill in the gaps. Where Merlot lacks a lengthy finish, adding in some Cabernet Sauvignon can help create a fuller and more balanced wine, and vice versa, adding a little Merlot to a Cabernet Sauvignon can create more fruit in the front palate to help balance the bold tannin structure on the finish.
Not quite a believer in the blend? Well then, let’s look at France as they have been growing grapes for a few years now. Ever wonder why it is hard to figure out what you are buying when reading a French wine label? This is because France labels its wine by the region grapes are grown in as opposed to the varietal itself. France has many strict wine laws. One of which is that only certain varietals are deemed fit (depending on soil, climate, aspect, weather, and location – what the French refer to as terrior) to grow in a specific wine region; therefore, only those varietals are allowed to be planted in that specific region in order to produce a quality wine. So, when you go to the store and pick up a bottle of Bordeaux, you are getting a wine blend that contains some or all of the following varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet France, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. If you are more of a Merlot fan, go for a sub-region from the right bank (Pomerol or St. Émilion); these wines are Merlot dominant. The left bank (predominantly Médoc) is for our Cab drinkers. There are rare instances when a producer makes a single varietal Bordeaux wine; however, they are few and far between when compared to all of the wine produced in Bordeaux.
Are you still a varietal purist? In reality, you may not be and not even know it! Did you know that your beloved Cabernet Sauvignon that you are drinking may not be truly 100% Cabernet Sauvignon? That’s right! US law allows up to 25% of a wine to be a different varietal other than the varietal stated on the label. Oregon does have some exceptions to this law where certain varietals can only contain 10% of a different grape; however, the law is allowing more varietals to go to the 25% law as wine regions grow and expand throughout Oregon.
At the end of the day, winemakers are not combining different varietals in your wine to trick you or to get rid of their “leftovers.” They are blending them to create a multifaceted and interesting wine for you, the consumer, to enjoy.
Established in 1999, Edenvale Winery is a premier family-owned winery located on the historic grounds of Eden Valley Orchards in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley with a second location, Enoteca by Edenvale, located on the Plaza in downtown Ashland. We make handcrafted wines that express the earth of the region and the passion of our winemaker. We take an old world approach to our winemaking with an extensive barrel and bottle aging program creating complex and intricate wines for our guests.
Enoteca by Edenvale
17 N Main St.