Being part of the wine world, I have had some amazing opportunities to collaborate – with wine makers, musicians, artists, architects and chefs. When people work together, we create a community that leads to experiences more than the sum of our parts. Why am I talking about the magic of collaborations on a wine blog? Well, it is really all to bust a myth.
I recently overhead someone proclaim a statement (quite authoritatively) that wines made from blends are not as good as single variety wines. That was certainly news to me. I was a bit confused because I hadn’t come across that view that before and several fantastic blends jumped immediately to mind to disprove that statement.
To dispel this myth, that blends aren’t as good, I thought I would take this opportunity to explore some classic collaborations that have not only stood the test of time, but that delight and excite wine lovers everywhere…
Let’s start with France and look at Champagne. Champagne is one of the most celebrated drinks in the world is often made with a blend of three noble grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Both Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are red grapes and Chardonnay a white grape – blended together they form a delicious toasty, buttery, citrusy delight.
Continuing the French theme, look at the famous wines of Bordeaux. Bordeaux’s classic red varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. A classic Bordeaux pairing is Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot. Cabernet Sauvignon is a high acid, high tannin structured wine with big flavours of black cherry and cassis (blackcurrant), while Merlot is typically lower in acidity and brings red fruits such as raspberry and cherry to the blend. The soft, plush Merlot balances out the dominant tannins and pepperiness of the Cabernet Sauvignon creating an elegant and more complex wine.
Skip over to Australia and you’ll find we love our blends too. The classic Sem/Sav, Shiraz Viognier (of which the Canberra District has some of the best examples) and GSM (Grenache, Shiraz & Mourvédre – actually also originally a famous Rhone blend!) are popular. Winemakers here are also less bound by tradition (and appellation laws) and therefore are experimenting with all sorts of blends, so anything goes really - as long as you like it!
It is also worth noting that in most circumstances, blending to some extent without declaring the blend is permitted. For example, in Australia, to label a single variety, the wine contain at least 85% of that grape. It is optional for the wine maker to declare the percentages of any other grape they include.
Blend or no blend – the wine world is there to be explored, so my advice is to try new things whenever possible, and discover what you like to drink.