The Art of Blended Wine

by artfuldiner on April 2, 2018

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Wine

Wines of the Month - April 2018On Saturday, March 10, 2018, a group of wine lovers, including this writer, presented a variety of blended wines from around the world to our community wine club…

A blended wine is what the name suggests… It typically consists of at least 40-50 percent of one type of grape and a small mix of two or more other grapes. However, using the term in its widest sense, virtually every wine is a blend of some type, if only of different parcels within the same vineyard. Blending is simply the process of adding one wine to another; it takes many forms. In addition to combining several different grape varieties, a winemaker can also blend wines from the same grape – but made in a different way – wines from different vineyards, different regions, or even different vintages. The possibilities for blending are virtually limitless.

A typical varietal wine, such as Chardonnay, is made from the same type of grape. Occasionally, as noted above, winemakers will use grapes from different plots of a vineyard or different regions for a varietal; however, they are all the same type of grapes. In the United States, a varietal must be 75 percent of one type of grape; in Europe it is generally 80 percent; and in Argentina, 85 percent. It is, therefore, possible for wineries to add other grapes to a varietal and still call it a single varietal wine. However, once a wine’s major grape content falls below the above percentages, it is no longer a varietal; it is considered a blend.

Basically, wines are blended to make them more complex. Blending can enhance aroma, color, texture, body and finish. For example, if a wine doesn’t have a strong aroma, a winemaker can add five percent of a more aromatic grape and can experiment with different types of varietals coming from other vineyards.

Winemakers will often make a barrel of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or other wines solely for the purpose of blending. As grapes are being harvested, the winemaker determines what they think will be the best formula for a particular blend. Allotting specific barrels for blending allows them to experiment in finding the best types of mixtures.

The timeline for blending wines varies: Winemakers mix blends in a steel tank. Higher cost blends are generally aged in oak; lower cost wines, however, are rarely aged in this manner. Some winemakers put blended wines into an oak barrel halfway through the aging process; others put the wines together one to two weeks before bottling. Other winemakers allow the wines to ferment together from start to finish. Blending is a pragmatic operation; and winemakers like to retain an element of flexibility. The goal, however, is the same: to make the best possible wine each year.

Listed below, for your drinking pleasure, in the order in which they were presented, are the seven (7) blended wines presented to our wine club on Saturday, March 10, 2018…



DeMorgenzon “Maestro,” 2014, South Africa: 26% Roussanne, 25% Chardonnay, 19% Grenache Blanc, 17% Chenin Blanc, 13% Viognier

“… This is a complex and layered wine. A soft flinty character lies atop a rich bouquet of yellow apple, ripe green melon, Tangerine and honeycomb. The medium-weight palate offers both weight and refinement, with a smooth texture and ripe fruit flavors that are cut by ample acidity and lingering sweet-spice accents. Drink now – 2019.” – Wine Enthusiast: 92 Points; Editors’ Choice. $24.99, purchased through Pennsylvania State Stores.

Anselmi Veneto San Vincenzo, 2015, Italy: 80% Garganega, 10% Chardonnay, 10% Sauvignon Blanc

“An expressive white, creamy and lightly juicy throughout, offering flavors of blood orange, granite, fresh tarragon, yellow peach and mineral, set in a light-bodied frame. The finish is juicy. Garganega with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Drink now through 2019.” Wine Spectator: 90 Points. $13.99, purchased online from



 Domaine Lafage “Bastide Miraflores,” Vieilles Vignes, 2015, France: 70% Syrah, 30% Grenache

“This wine is almost too good to be true… It’s a ripe, sexy, heady beauty that exhibits a deep, purple color as well as killer notes of smoked meats, chocolate, blackberry y and black raspberries. Deep, unctuous, open knit and layered, it continues to change in the glass, has a seamless and silky profile, and not a hard edge to be found. It’s a sensational value that needs to be tasted to be believed. Drink it anytime over the coming 2-4 years.” Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: 94 Points. $12.99, purchased online from

Château Malbec, 2014, Bordeaux, France: 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec

“Superb intense and very inviting aromas of sweet cassis black fruit, warm spicy oak and coffee. Lovely, mouth-filling palate of glossy delicious black fruit and well-judged oak giving an appealing spicy undercurrent. Superb wine.” Decanter Magazine: Platinum Award Winner; 95 Points. $15.99, purchased through Pennsylvania State Stores.

Beaulieu Vineyard BV Reserve Tapestry, 2014, Napa Valley, California: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 11% of Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc

“… The 2014 Reserve Tapestry Proprietary Red Wine opens with crème de cassis and blackberry tart notes over hints of menthol, incense and Christmas cake, plus a waft of dark chocolate. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is flamboyant, rich, velvety and seductive, with a lively lift in the mid-palate and a long, spicy finish.” Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: 90 Points; James Suckling: 95 Points. $39.99, purchased online from

 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre, 2013, Verona, Italy: 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Sangiovese

“A food-friendly blend… the 2013 Palazzo della Torre exhibits the brightness and inner harmony of this slightly cooler vintage. Palazzo della Torre is one of the break-out successes of Allegrini’s new lineup. The wine is dark and thick in appearance, and the bouquet is shaped by strength and power. Blackberry preserves, cherry confit, barbecue spice and Spanish cedar form a thick and tightly knit bouquet.” Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: 90 Points

“A linear and fresh red with pretty layers of ripe fruit. Full to medium body. Gorgeous.” James Suckling: 92 Points. $19.99, purchased through Pennsylvania State Stores.

Ridge Vineyards “Three Valleys,” 2014, Sonoma County, California: 65% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, 14% Carignane, 4% Grenache

“The 2014 Three Valleys, Ridge’s entry-level Zinfandel-based red, is a delicious, value-priced red to drink young, while the fruit remains vibrant. Sweet floral notes and a burst of spiciness round out the 2014 edition.” Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: 89 Points. $24.99, purchased through Pennsylvania State Stores.



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