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Comments & Reviews

March 27, 2007 | sonadora

I've certainly notices that quite a few red blends have been popping up in shipments from my various wine clubs. I've been fairly impressed with the quality and flavors in many of them. I agree that it can certainly help bring out the best in the grapes if done well. We are headed to a red blending event at one of the wineries we belong to in two weeks and I will be very interested to see what blends are made!

March 27, 2007 | Sean Calder

I think it boils down to 2 things:

1. Price - blends especially those from the Rhone varietals are good for the money... and that money is far less than, say a single varietal Napa Cab. For adventurous wine buyers/drinkers, there are some great values out there.

2. Wine styles - many people are really starting to appreciate Old World blends and may be tiring of the stylistic homogenization that many California wines have been showing for some time (ie. big, ripe, jammy).

Of course there is more to it than that and I think you've said it well.

March 27, 2007 | Ben Bicais

@sonadora: I agree there are better blends coming out all the time, and I think better site and clonal selection has a lot to do with it. Sounds like a fun tasting, and I am interested to hear your impressions.
@ moreisless: There are some especially good values from Santa Ynez and Paso Robles these days, and I enjoy contrasting cooler climate Rhone blends with those from warmer climates. On your second point, I think many producers are already starting to move away from the high-alcohol, super-ripe style. Not a moment too soon, in my opinion.

March 27, 2007 | Amy Gardner

Blends are the best value out there--and sometimes the best wines to boot. If it's good enough for Baron Phillippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi when they started up Opus One it is good enough for me. I seek out meritage wines because they can be the best expression of the fruit a winemaker has at his or her disposal. I also find blends are much more food friendly. I've also noticed the trend to more blending which should bring some great new wines to us consumers. I just picked up a $15 bottle of red wine blend from Argentina that Michel Rolland produced--can't wait to taste it.

March 27, 2007 | Ryan Fujiu

@Winetalent - Agreed, some of my favorite wines are blends. Even among single varietal wines; some of my favorite Cabernet Sauvignon designate wines are blends with Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

March 31, 2007 | frankhaddad

Blends can be better than the individual varietal. Merlot adding a little softness to Cab Sav in Bordeuax blends. Blends can also help the wine maker correct bad vintage years. The Italians have been do this for years in the Vento with Amarone. Some of their best wines are blends.

April 3, 2007 | Mark Holm

I disagree. There is no doubt one can make wonderful wines with blends. However, it takes more skill to produce the best in a single varietal wine and the area the grapes are grown in have a big effect on the wine. A single varietal wine is more likely to show the terroir.
Califorina's best wines have been single varietals - it works for Burgundy.
I prefer 100% Cali Cab over
Bordeaux any day of the week.

April 6, 2007 | brendan

An Italian wine expert told me that this is the natural progression of wine. That in 300 years, Californian wines will be known as the "place" and not the varietal.

April 12, 2007 | Michelle Lentz

I enjoy blends, and in particular, I enjoy a good Meritage. However, I hate it when a distributor or retailer makes a comment along the lines of "American palates just like blends." They usually say it disdainfully, as if enjoying a nice blend shows what poor palates we have. That just annoys me to no end and it's something I heard several times over at tastings in March, when there were several Meritages out on the table locally. I don't want to be embarassed that I intend to walk out of the store with the blend they had on the table in the first place.

July 3, 2010 | NapaRightBanker

Three years later, the debate continues! I'm with BRENDAN--in 300 years California winegrowers will be focused on place--as many are now--and the consumer will have caught up. Because it's JUST NOT THAT HARD to remember: hot places good for Zinfandel, upvalley Napa good for Big Bad Napa Cab, hillsides good for all Bordeaux varietals, cool-climate great for cab franc/merlot, and cold extreme coastal great for pinot/chardonnay.

I'm in cool-climate Napa Valley hillsides doing a right-bank blend (as in St.Emilion, Bordeaux's "right bank') because the grapes thrive here and the blend is gorgeous, especially with dinner. As a culinary-school-trained palate, that's what I'm into.

But even today, three years after this article, I get hassle from the trade "You're in Napa Valley, you need to be selling Cabernet Sauvignon, THAT's what the market wants. There's no CATEGORY for your wine."

OK, I have to say, then I'll sell directly to consumers, cuz I think they're smarter than you do.

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