Sunday, April 10, 2011

To Blend or not to Blend....that is the question!!

A short while ago I read an article by a well known wine writer proclaiming that in a few years all wines will be blended wines.
I had just tasted a blended wine made up of and get this... Pinot Noir..Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamay Noir. Really now?
I chose to ignore this off the cuff remark. Then I read it again by another wine writer. Had these two gents attended the same wine conference? 

Now,as we have seen it reported over and over again, the US total yearly consumption of wine is now greater than in France. But those figures are like comparing apples and oranges. On a per person basis consumption, the US is still far behind France. But this statistic is based on a total population figure.
The significance however lies in the fact that wine is finally becoming much more a part of our culture.
Along with this new found thirst comes an eager search for more knowledge about wine. And thus statements such as the above might be taken seriously by our new wine loving friends and should not be made by responsible wine writers. There is just too much nonsense out there. At least that is my opinion. 
So I thought I would check with a couple of people who I respect highly and get their opinion.
First I checked with Alice Feiring. I take you to a post I did on her a couple of years ago. I loved reading her very interesting  book.
So here is what she had to say as per quotation.

"I have been in the blend camp for quite some time. I sort of feel it's the salvation of California as well as other regions that might have spotty 'great' terroir". 

Yes of course. Bordeaux, the 'King of Wines' producing some of the best blended wines in the world. 

Since I had used Burgundy's Pinot Noir and Germany's Rieslings as examples of single variety wines her response was as follows.

"The comparison to Burgundy or the Mosel is pretty unfair as those regions have been one grape grape one bottle for quite a while, but they spent 100s of years fine tuning which grapes grow best on the soils"
Ah, yes..Burgundy Pinot Noir ..the 'Queen of Wines"
Along comes modern day science and technology to help us out and it is now possible to determine which grape variety is most suited to a specific vineyards plot.
Dr. Pat Bowen has done extensive research in this field and by means of the GIS or Geographical Imaging System, site specific grape varieties can be determined. 
Poof.... hundreds of years can be bypassed by modern science.
Read the highlights of that research here. 
Going back to my archived blog entry on Alice Feiring, I realized that I had written about one of my favorite German vintners as well on that same blog entry. 
 Why are we smiling so much? Me ...because I had just tasted some wonderful Mosels and Johannes Selbach.... because he is justifiably proud of his single variety wines.
So I contacted him and again as per quote.

"We do NOT blend our Selbach-Oster Rieslings with anything else and have no intention to do so.
There are grapes that are suitable for blending and there are grapes with little flavour that benefit from blending but good, genuine Riesling certainly doesn't need it.
I firmly believe in the future of handcrafted, authentic varietal wines if they are grown in suitable climate and soil because they will offer the wine drinker a sense of place, terroir, as well as the pleasures of varietal character.
That being said, if the individual components don't have enough character to make a distinctive wine or if the blend is better than its components, blending makes sense. Blending also makes sense where the married components together enhance complexity and typicity ( and here Bordeaux certainly is a classic example for successful blends )."
So there you have it.
Let me finish with an image of my family blend of wine which consists of 55% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Noir and just to add a touch of complexity... 5% Pinot Noir. 
 I raise my glass of blended wine, straight from the above bottle, to you my dear readers!!

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