Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Victor de la Serna » Sun Jul 18, 2010 6:30 am

I am indeed surprised by Robin's premise that people reject blends. Heck, what else is a Bordeaux? There are strong blending traditions in almost all European regions south of a Bordeaux-Châteauneuf-du-Pape line. The main reason is that in almost all cooler climates there usually is one red or white variety which does much better than the rest, and in such marginal climates complexity and personality will more often come from soil, microclimate, altitude or orientation differences than from varietal content: pinot noir in Burgundy or riesling in the Rhine-Mosel are the two best examples. In the south, where everything ripens reasonably well, blending is what will give you personality and complexity. With a few exceptions, of course, which only confirm the rule: Petrus is virtually 100% merlot, Rayas and L'Ermita are 100% grenache... Otherwise, don't forget that in those warmer regions blending has long been the rule: Bordeaux, Rioja, Ribeiro, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Languedoc-Roussillon, Veneto, Chianti... Heck, even in Piemonte: remember Angelo Gaja's long feud with the Barolo and Barbaresco authorities as he insisted that 100% nebbiolo is a modern thing and that the wines should be allowed to have some barbera in them, as in the old days. He even took his best crus out of the two appellations to defend his point. Me, in an infinitely more modest region of southern Europe, I make six wines and not even the two which come with a varietal label are 100% varietals! (We have 10% of another grape in them to stay true to our belief that blends are best in our part of the world.)
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:25 am

Rahsaan wrote:
Daniel Rogov wrote:Some surprises await


Such as?



Rahasan....

e.g. The remarkable impact of a very small percentage of the Viognier immediately and after 24 hours; the remarkable transformation the wine will go through with 5 or 10% Viognier added after 24 hours; and then the determination of which "blend" has a positive and which a negative influence

Best
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:48 am

Bernard Roth wrote:Well, Robin. You stated this as if there really are people making the claim. I think you built a strawman without any good data to support the hypothesis. So please, name names? Who exactly do you know in the single variety camp?

Calm yourselves, guys. It's a peg for an essay. Yes, I have seen this argument made on this forum, and no, I'm not going to name names.

I'm put in mind, though, of the hypothetical gentleman who has a rod up his @$$ that has a rod up its @$$. Sheesh!
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Peter May » Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:23 am

How many 'single variety' wines are really 100% of that variety? Barrels are topped up and if there isn't enough of that variety maybe another is used. If the back label doesn't explicitly state it is 100% then .....

I have been surprised here in Finger Lakes how many supposedly single variety Cabernet Francs (and some Pinot Noirs) have been poured as a varietal wine but when quizzed the winemaker admits up to 25% Lemberger in the CF and perhaps a few % of something else in the PN.

I have no objection to blending, it can make a better wine by filling in blank spots in the wine taste profile, but I do object to wines labelled as a varietal which are infact a 75/25% blend because 25% makes a substantial difference to the varietal taste of a wine
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Drew Hall » Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:52 am

I often have several open bottles of red varietals on the counter and love to blend them and I like what I've blended more times than not. If you can't have fun enjoying wine than what's the point?

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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Steve Slatcher » Sun Jul 18, 2010 6:10 pm

Peter May wrote:How many 'single variety' wines are really 100% of that variety? Barrels are topped up and if there isn't enough of that variety maybe another is used. If the back label doesn't explicitly state it is 100% then .....

I would think that in the vast majority of cases where the AC (or equivalent) rules require 100%, then those rules are obeyed. But, yes, I take your point, and hinted at it above in an earlier post of mine.

Note however that in some cases AC rules do actually permit blends even if they are not common - Bourgogne Rouge is a case in point. And then there are of course other Burgundy ACs that allow significant percentages of Gamay to be blended in with Pinot Noir. Burgundy as an area is not quite as varietal as many seem to assume!
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Victor de la Serna » Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:05 pm

Steve Slatcher wrote:Burgundy as an area is not quite as varietal as many seem to assume!

This is truer for whites than for reds. In the Côte-d'Or, from 'villages' upward to 1er Cru and Grand Cru - i.e., all of the quality red burgundies - only pinot is allowed. Since 1395, no less...
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Dave Erickson » Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:19 pm

Many years ago, on a visit to the Hunter Valley, I had lunch with Philip Hele, who is not a winemaker, but a sales-and-marketing guy for a place called the Hunter Resort, which is not only a resort, but also a contract winery. Over the course of the meal, Philip talked about the area wines, and proposed a theory about the blending of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. With a glass of each handy, he had me try the Cab first. "You taste Cabernet around the edge of your tongue," he said. "You taste Merlot in the middle of your tongue." He called for a fresh glass, and had me pour some of the Cabernet into it, and then add some of the Merlot. "You see?" he said. "Now the taste is 'mouthfilling' because you taste it in all parts of your mouth."

I relate this story not to promote his theory, but to say that he was the first (and, to date, the last) person who ever suggested mixing two finished wines with the notion that the blend would be an improvement on the originals. For what it's worth, my memory is that the Cab and Merlot were better together than they were separately. Miraculous to tell, the two together tasted like something from Bordeaux. How about that.

As for the original premise of this thread...it's just not a workable analogy. Unless you've never, ever eaten sausage. :D
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Steve Slatcher » Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:06 am

Victor de la Serna wrote:In the Côte-d'Or, from 'villages' upward to 1er Cru and Grand Cru - i.e., all of the quality red burgundies - only pinot is allowed. Since 1395, no less...

Pinot maybe, but not necessarily Point Noir. For Marange Rouge, for example, the following are permitted: pinot fin noir dit "noirien", pinot beurot, pinot liébault
http://www.inao.gouv.fr/public/produits ... 4&from=src
I believe it is similar for other villages, but have lost my handy link for searching for this kind of stuff.

Note I am not saying it is normal practice to blend all these grapes - just that it is permitted.

Ah, just found my link again, and found the text for Beaune:
http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTex ... eTexte=vig
which includes:
b) Les vins rouges sont issus des cépages suivants :
― cépage principal : pinot noir N ;
― cépages accessoires : chardonnay B, pinot blanc B, pinot gris G.
b) Vins rouges :
Les cépages accessoires sont autorisés uniquement en mélange de plants dans les vignes. Leur proportion totale est limitée à 15 % au sein de chaque parcelle.

Which, if I understand the French correctly, you can have a field blend of up to 15% of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc in Red Beaune.

(Edited to add the bit about Beaune)
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Paul B. » Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:33 pm

Peter May wrote:I have no objection to blending, it can make a better wine by filling in blank spots in the wine taste profile, but I do object to wines labelled as a varietal which are infact a 75/25% blend because 25% makes a substantial difference to the varietal taste of a wine


Peter,

I think that's done because in our culture - not for better, but for worse - name cachet and marketing are the main goals. Therefore, if you have that Cab Franc blend with 25% Lemberger, you're not going to mention the unfashionable Lemberger - but you sure as heck are going to mention the oh-so-trendy Cabernet, even though the Lemberger obviously fills in some of the Cabernet's shortcomings!!!

It's stupid ... but that's how it goes.
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Bernard Roth » Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:29 pm

I understood Robin's premise to be absolutist. That there are people who object to any blending whatsoever for the reason Robin stated. This does not refer to labeling laws or ambiguities. It does not refer to people who like varietally labeled wines to be 100% that variety. It refers to blatant rejection of blending.

So Robin won't name names. I conclude that the universe of such folks is empty. Or the people who say they opposed blending are just trying to be provocative. Does this objection apply to clonal blends? Multiple vineyard blends? Vines of different age within a vineyard?

Could d'Yquem be improved by removing either varietal? Grange? Unico? Rioja? To name a few that have not already been listed.

Indeed the premise is so blatantly preposterous one should wonder why spin such a yarn in the first place.
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Steve Slatcher » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:46 am

Bernard Roth wrote:Indeed the premise is so blatantly preposterous one should wonder why spin such a yarn in the first place.

Preposterous indeed - but the wine world is pretty good at preposterous. You are making the mistake of introducing logic into the discussion ;)
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Jul 20, 2010 6:53 am

Bernard - in complaining about what you perceive to be absolutist you are also being absolutist.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Victor de la Serna » Tue Jul 20, 2010 5:23 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Bernard - in complaining about what you perceive to be absolutist you are also being absolutist.

How?
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Re: Wine Advisor: Should grape varieties touch in the glass?

Postby Mike Pollard » Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:22 pm

There is no doubt that blending of grape varieties is very common in Australia. The Penfolds wines are interesting examples of this, but even they have exceptions. Many vintages of Grange have some Cabernet and even St Henri has, more so in recent years, had Cab added. So both of these wines are the products of two varieties from multiple vineyards and regions, thus Penfolds labels Grange the "most powerful expression of Penfolds multi-vineyard, multi-district blending philosophy." Grange can stand on its own anywhere, and St Henri is always a worthy drink, but it does need age.

In contrast Magill Shiraz is a single vineyard wine while RWT (Shiraz) is a single region wine (Barossa), and both are only Shiraz. I have had older vintages of Magill that have been beautiful (the 1984 springs to mind). I have only had RWT as a young wine but I've been impressed by it.

Bin 707 is a multi-regional Cabernet. Their only single vineyard Cabernet is (I believe) Block 42 (Kalimna Vineyard - claimed to be the oldest Cab vines in the world). I have some experience of the 707 but none for the Block 42. It is interesting that the latter is rarely made. Either Penfolds just can't make a single vinyard Cab or they realise that its just too difficult. The latter is probably more likely because the vintages of 707 I have tasted have all been excellent and in blind tastings I have several times rated it higher than Grange.

The Penfolds line-up suggests another wrinkle to add to the blending of different varieties. Is a wine made from a single variety a better expression of the grape if the grapes are from one region or a blend of regions?

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