The art of wine blends

access_time 2019 · 11 · 04

Why couldn’t there be only wines from individual strains? 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 10% Carmenere … Isn’t it weird to find quasi-mathematical formulas on bottle labels? I invite you to know the art of blending.

For all its fans, wine is a part of diet, a nourishes ingredient of meals and a delicious and healthy drink. Behind its production there is a lot of science, but there is also an artistic factor. Nature offers grape vines, also yeast and, above all, a combination of climatic and geological conditions in the vineyard. But, to obtain a perfect wine, we leave it to the winemaker, who interprets all these conditions and uses several tools to obtain the best possible results.

vineyard

One of these tools is blending. In most cases, the wine is blended after fermentation, at the end of the winemaking process, but sometimes it is made after the aging of the wine, just before bottling. There are even producers who decide to blend the different varieties from the beginning of the winemaking process, as soon as possible, so that the different grapes achieve maximum integration. Finally, the different varieties can be co-fermented, that is, harvest the berries of the same field and vinify them at the same time.

This topic in very complex and winemakers must have a lot of knowledge of the vines and their vineyards, but also experience to get the best wine. The idea is always that the sum of the parts conforms to a superior product. Thus:

  • You can blend different strains, as well as grapes from the same region or valley, that is, from different appellations. This applies to Chile because in some producing countries, especially in Europe, each appellation must only produce the grapes authorized by law. Take example of Marques de Casa Concha Etiqueta Negra made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Marques-de-Casa-Concha-Black-Label
Ph:@marquesdecasaconcha
Marques-de-Casa-Concha-Cabernet-Sauvignon
Ph:@marquesdecasaconcha
  • You can blend the same wine, but from different vintages or crops, according to some specific rules. In this situation, the year of harvest is not written on the bottle. This occurs in the case of Champagne, where only the vintage is highlighted when it is an exceptional season
  • You can blend red and white varieties, as is the case with Chianti Classico, where the Malvasia Blanca usually appears in a smaller proportion next to the Sangiovese red variety
  • And a field blend can be made, which means that the different strains grow in the same vineyard. These are harvested and vinified together. This practice is very old because it facilitates the production of wine, but also somewhat risky, because not all varieties reach their optimum maturity at the same time. Proponents of this practice ensure that their wines are more complex

Can we assemble all grape varieties? Look at nature, she always has the best answers: grape varieties that blend well grow in general under the same latitudes, such as Carmenere and Cabernet such as the case of Trio Cabernet Sauvignon where the Cabernet Sauvignon joins the Cabernet Franc, or  the Mourvèdre and the Carignan. The best blends are made naturally.

Trio-Cabernet-Sauvignon
Ph: @trio_wine

Now, I want to underline that the theme of the blending is ​​different in the New World, where winemakers have more freedom and can play with proportions or break the sacrum, blending, for example, Carmenere (Bordeaux strain) and Syrah (strain of Rhone Valley), which is prohibited in France, like in Casillero del Diablo Red Blend. In Europe, as we said, the issue of blending is strictly regulated by law. In order to claim the protected designation of origin and write it with pride on the labels, producers are subject to very precise specifications.

Casillero-Del-Diablo-Red-Blend
Ph: @casillero_diablo

Why, then, complicate life so much and assemble grape varieties? Because the final blend allows winemakers to obtain more complex and multidimensional wine. For example, some strains can provide roundness to a red wine that is too tannic or with very pronounced acidity. Or, add acidity to a voluptuous white strain, but lacks vivacity. It is also a good way to multiply aromas, since each strain has a different profile. And, above all, in the case of Premium proposals, the art of blending is a tool to maintain the style of wine in each harvest, always raising it to its maximum potential. 

P.S. Short dictionary of the synonyms:

  • Coupage- from French, means to mix / blend
  • Assemblage- from French, translates “assembly”, defines a technique of composition of elements and a strong artistic / creative factor of the winemaker
  • Blend- English word, also used in the world of whiskey

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