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The Art Of Wine… Blending

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‘E’Wine of the week

By Bruce Cochran

This week we’ll look at the fascinating art of blending, a way for winemakers to add a variety of different flavors to the same wine. This truly is where wine becomes more art and less science.

Try a new wine this week!

Bruce

‘Number One Red’ From Lot 205 Winery

Long ago, it was unusual for a California wine to contain more than one grape variety. A cab was a cab, a merlot was all merlot, etc.

Many of the French originals (cabernet sauvignon, merlot and in fact most of the better-known grape varieties are originally from France), were routinely blended, for complexity and style. A little merlot could soften a tannic cab, and a little cab could give body and structure to a supple merlot.

California began adopting some of these French blends, using names like Meritage, or inventing their own names. More recently, an increasing number of wineries from California and around the world are creating their own blends.

Australian winemakers popularized cabernet sauvignon with shiraz (their name for syrah). Tuscans blend cabernet, and sometimes merlot, with their native sangiovese grape.

Blending different grapes together puts a winemaker’s stamp on a wine. Many great winemakers acknowledge the role that nature plays in a great wine. “Great wines begin in the vineyard” is an often heard declaration that carries a lot of weight with me. The right grape grown in a climate it likes is a recipe for success.

Differences in weather from one year to the next can make a difference in quality sometimes, and style many times. For instance, wines from warmer years will often be riper, heavier and less tart (acidic), while cooler seasons are reflected in wines with more elegance, finesse and crisp fruit acids.

One I found a while back combines cabernet and merlot, with a dose of unoaked petite sirah for additional color and depth of flavor. “Number One Red” from Lot 205 Winery is the name. They found me through a barbecue article I wrote. One of the winery partners is a fan of Southern barbecue, and contacted me to recommend a barbecue joint in rural Mississippi-and to let me know that Number One Red pairs well with it.

I agree. Number One Red retails for around $11 or $12 a bottle.

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