Ever since Australia put cabernet/shiraz on a label, I have heard a lot about “new” blends. But the idea of blending different grapes to make wine isn’t really new. While some wines have always been blends, including the grapes on the front label is a more recent tactic. Bringing complexity and flavor, blends are like an entrée with many ingredients, each adding to the dish to make it better.
This month’s wine selections are from France 44 Wine and Spirits, 4351 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-925-3252, france44.com.
Clos LaChance, Meritage 2007
From: Central Coast, California
Breakdown: 63% merlot, 17% cabernet sauvignon, 11% cabernet franc, 6% malbec, 3% petite verdot
Pair it with: Braised short ribs.
Meritage is the invented word for a Bordeaux blend from California. This one uses all five traditional red Bordeaux grapes. A large percentage of merlot makes the wine soft and silky with blackberry and plum fruit, while each additional grape adds a bit of its own character. This wine over-delivers for the price range.
Yalumba, Shiraz Viognier 2007
From: Southern Australia
Breakdown: 94% shiraz, 6% viognier
Yes, a red and white grape blended together. And it won’t be the last time you see this, even in this article. Shiraz, also known as syrah, is used in blends throughout the world. This one is simple and delicious, medium bodied and balanced with fruit and spice.It’s a great value and fun for the novice or the snob.
La Posta, Cocina Blend 2007
From: Mendoza, Argentina
Breakdown: 60% malbec, 20% bonarda, 20% syrah
Pair it with: A chocolate torte dessert.
Here are two classic blending grapes with the added twist of bonarda, an earthy grape that is also known as charbono in California. You get cherry and raspberry fruit, plus peppery spice on the finish.
De Toren, Z 2006
From: Stellenbosch, South Africa
Breakdown: 33% merlot, 27% cabernet sauvignon, 25% cabernet franc, 12% malbec, 3% petite verdot
Pair it with: A big piece of red meat.
Stellenbosch is to South Africa what Napa is to California. This is one of the region’s best blends, and it follows a common pattern all of these winemakers are using—pairing a big jammy red with a cedar and tobacco nose and a finish that goes on for days.
Domaine Bois de Boursan, Chateauneuf- du-Pape 2005
From: Rhone, France
Breakdown: As many as 13 grape varieties can be used, including syrah, mourvedre, and grenache blanc
This is the Ferrari of the red blend world. I get a bit intimidated with a wine that Parker and Tanzer gave such high marks but then said not to drink until 2022. This is a cellar selection that will become more complex during the years to come. Drink it with someone you really like.