Is ‘blend’ a dirty word? (by Allen R. Balik)

Posted: January 29, 2013 by Johan Botha in Oenology, Vinification, Wine, Winemaking, World wine news
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
The magic of blending.

The magic of blending.


The question of varietal versus blend comes up often when I’m taking groups through the wine country or conducting wine education seminars. And there seems to be a stereotypic image in the minds of many that blend is a “dirty word” and only the best wines are varietal.

This is definitely a regional phenomenon and one I believe is false. It only serves to intimidate consumers from experimenting with some of the world’s best wines.

The centuries-old custom for wines of the old world (as most of Europe is referred to in the world of wine) has been to name the wine by the region or producer. Historically the consumer identified with that practice.

By this nomenclature old world wines could be blends (e.g. Bordeaux or Chateauneuf-du-Pape) while others were 100 percent varietal (e.g. Burgundy or Barolo). For the most part the consumer was unaware of the varietal composition and often didn’t care. They identified with the wine and not the grape.

In the 1950s and 1960s, American wine writer Frank Shoonmaker — a visionary of his time — and others lead a concerted move in the U.S. to use varietal labeling (the name of the grape) rather than the more universally used “generic” names (Chablis, Burgundy, Chianti, Champagne) to connote quality and identity.

At that time in the industry’s pursuit of excellence and to differentiate U.S. wines, “blend” definitely became a dirty word.


Read on …

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