The Artist is in the Blend
Posted by Jason Newell, Byerly’s Chanhassen wines and spirits manager
Monday, October 21, 2013
Throughout my career in the wine and spirits industry, I’ve met many winemakers, but the common thread between them is they seem to be both scientist and artist combined in the same mind.
The science of making wine is complex. Growing a grapevine in the perfect type of soil that will produce a particular varietal of grape with a specific flavor profile is the work of an analytical genius. With the grapes fermented and aged to perfection, the artist in the winemaker takes over. They blend wines from different types of grapes that have been aged in a variety of ways. Each grape produces a wine with different qualities of sweet, dry, light and heavy bodies, with a wide spectrum of colors. The winemaker then utilizes all their experiences from previous vintages and blends different wines to create their masterpiece.
Some of the most desired wines in the world are blended wines. From Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley in France and the Super Tuscans in Italy, to cabernet-based wines from Napa Valley and some of my personal favorites from Priorat, Spain are highly sought after. Some of these masterpieces can fetch hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single bottle, while others are priced affordable enough to have with dinner every day. The aromas and flavor possibilities available to customers are infinite.
Within the last two years the popularity of blended wines has skyrocketed. Wine makers Conundrum from California and Evolution out of Oregon have gained some notoriety, but it’s the everyday reds (in my opinion) that have been the real superstars. The success of everyday brands like Apothic and Ménage à Trois have inspired winemakers to develop even more complex and exciting blends for this year.
Red Blends to Try
- Apothic’s Carnivor - a luscious Cabernet blend that’s soft enough to have with or without a steak.
Murphy-Goode’s Homefront Red - a limited release of a blended red. For every bottle sold, Murphy-Goode donates 50 cents to Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit that provides emergency and financial assistance to families of service members and wounded warriors. .
- Ravenswood Wines’ Besieged - Joel Peterson, the originator of Ravenswood, brings a blend of six different grapes that most of us have never heard of before in the newly released 2012 vintage of Besieged. This wine consists of 35% Carignane, 20% Petite Sirah, 18% Zinfandel, 9%Alicante Bouschet and 5% Barbera. Together these grapes bring a dark, rich, almost black–in-color wine with multiple levels of intense flavors. Blackberry, black cherry, chocolate and plum flavors come through in this wine that finishes long and smooth. This red is a testament to what incredible flavors can be developed with the experience of a master vintner.
The change in seasons from summer to fall in Minnesota is a special time for us. The temperature starts to drop and the light begins to change. Culinary inspirations switch from grilled to roasted meats, and wine preferences jump from light and crisp to rich and full-bodied. These red blends are a fantastic match with roasted root vegetables and meats out of an oven that warms the house as much as it does your senses.
Be sure to let your wines & spirits shop staff know if you have any questions on wine blends. Happy fall!