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E Wine of the Week – Bruce Cochran

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Understanding Claret and Meritage

Hello Everyone,
Californians call it Meritage, the British call it Claret, but whatever you call it, this red blend has a lot of fans. When you don’t want to pick between cabernet and merlot, you can have both, and more, in one glass.

Try a new wine this week!
Bruce

Kenneth Volk Vineyards Claret 2004

Before there was Meritage, there was Claret. Both names refer to red wine blended from what are called “Bordeaux varietals” of which cabernet sauvignon and merlot are the most important. Bordeaux is the southwestern French city and surrounding wine region where these grapes came from. It’s best known for names like Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and Chateau Margaux.

Those wines are blended from cabernet, merlot and occasionally three other varieties. Merlot softens the cabernet, while cabernet adds structure and power to merlot. Cabernet franc is an earlier ripening cousin of cabernet sauvignon and adds complexity to the blend. It’s sort of like adding herbs to the stew pot.

Two other grapes are allowed in Bordeaux. Malbec, now better known in Argentina, and Petit Verdot, a pretty rare variety these days, are used in small amounts for color and aroma.

The British have long loved Bordeaux. They once owned this part of France, and they are still very much involved in distributing the region’s wines around the world. Claret is a traditional name that they use for red wines from Bordeaux.

In California, red “Bordeaux blends” are called Meritage (rhymes with “heritage” though often you will hear it pronounced differently).

So why does Kenneth Volk Vineyards call their red blend Claret instead of Meritage?  I can’t say for sure, but it might be because it really resembles the great, heralded names of Bordeaux itself. The grapes come from what some say is the best single vineyard in Paso Robles: Carmody-McKnight. It borders another famous vineyard there named Justin. Kenneth Volk is still well known in Paso Robles as the founder of Wild Horse Winery. His blend of 39 percent Cabernet Franc, 33 percent Merlot, 28 percent Cabernet Sauvignon is very dark purple, with aromas and flavors of cherry, blackberries and plum, followed by firm tannins and a long finish, which make it an excellent candidate for cellaring.

Kenneth Volk Vineyards Claret 2004 is a limited release, single vineyard wine that retails in the $25 to $30 price range.

Understanding Claret and Meritage

Hello Everyone,
Californians call it Meritage, the British call it Claret, but whatever you call it, this red blend has a lot of fans. When you don’t want to pick between cabernet and merlot, you can have both, and more, in one glass.

Try a new wine this week!
Bruce

Kenneth Volk Vineyards Claret 2004

Before there was Meritage, there was Claret. Both names refer to red wine blended from what are called “Bordeaux varietals” of which cabernet sauvignon and merlot are the most important. Bordeaux is the southwestern French city and surrounding wine region where these grapes came from. It’s best known for names like Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and Chateau Margaux.

Those wines are blended from cabernet, merlot and occasionally three other varieties. Merlot softens the cabernet, while cabernet adds structure and power to merlot. Cabernet franc is an earlier ripening cousin of cabernet sauvignon and adds complexity to the blend. It’s sort of like adding herbs to the stew pot.

Two other grapes are allowed in Bordeaux. Malbec, now better known in Argentina, and Petit Verdot, a pretty rare variety these days, are used in small amounts for color and aroma.

The British have long loved Bordeaux. They once owned this part of France, and they are still very much involved in distributing the region’s wines around the world. Claret is a traditional name that they use for red wines from Bordeaux.

In California, red “Bordeaux blends” are called Meritage (rhymes with “heritage” though often you will hear it pronounced differently).

So why does Kenneth Volk Vineyards call their red blend Claret instead of Meritage?  I can’t say for sure, but it might be because it really resembles the great, heralded names of Bordeaux itself. The grapes come from what some say is the best single vineyard in Paso Robles: Carmody-McKnight. It borders another famous vineyard there named Justin. Kenneth Volk is still well known in Paso Robles as the founder of Wild Horse Winery. His blend of 39 percent Cabernet Franc, 33 percent Merlot, 28 percent Cabernet Sauvignon is very dark purple, with aromas and flavors of cherry, blackberries and plum, followed by firm tannins and a long finish, which make it an excellent candidate for cellaring.

Kenneth Volk Vineyards Claret 2004 is a limited release, single vineyard wine that retails in the $25 to $30 price range.

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