Blended and Varietal Wines

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 at 12:00 am

grapes varietiesWhat is varietal wine?

A varietal wine refers to a wine made from a single grape variety. Varietal wines are common in areas where many different grape varieties are grown close together like in vineyards of North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and in parts of Europe.

The name of the specific variety is placed on the label of the wine bottle. In the U.S. and most other countries, varietal wines need to have at least 75 percent of a particular grape variety to carry the varietals name. In Australia the percentage is 80. In Europe, instead of using the varietal names they label their wines with the names of regions, districts or villages where they came from.

What is blended wine?

Blended wines, on the other hand, is created from the process of combining different wines with complimentary characteristics. France’s Bordeaux red wines are great examples of blended wines. Their blends often are made up to five varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit verdot.

Varietal vs blended

However, observable market trends show that people favor varietal wines more than blended wines. This can be attributed to the fact that the single varietal wine names on the label help people understand what the wine is made up of and would have distinct expectations on what it tastes like. In time, varietal wines can become rather monotonous and quite boring. Blended wines are more complex and can add new excitement to one’s willing palate.

It is a known fact that most of the world’s finest wines are blended from different grape varieties. Blending wines has a lot of virtues both for the winemaker and the wine enthusiasts. For the winemakers, blending unleashes their creativity and imagination while for wine connoisseurs it leaves unique tastes on their palates. The Bordeaux wines are classic examples of blended wines.

The Red Bordeaux, for instance, is blended from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and sometimes with Petit Verdot and Malbec. Another one is the Rioja, which came from the union of Tempranillo, Grenache and other varieties; the Chateauneuf-du-Pape, is blended from up to 13 different varieties; and Cotes du Rhone, which is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and other grapes. Aside from France, California and Australia has quite a number of winemakers who are into blended wines.

Moreover, there are specific grape varieties that go well with blends like the old-vines Grenache wine of Australia which would needs other grape varieties to control the rather strong color, tannin and flavor intensity. Often times, blended wines prove to be more appropriate and provides better food-wine combinations.

However, whether varietal or blended wines as long as you like the bottle you’re drinking then it really doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, your palate has the final say.