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Temecula Winemaker Roundtable: Fun Facts About… Red Wine Blends

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Red wine blends are increasingly popular in the US, though they’ve long been the standard for regions as famous as Bordeaux, the Southern Rhone and Tuscany. Why? Because winemakers appreciate the flexibility and control blending allows; they are able fine tune the final wine to bring out the best of each variety and use them to balance each other. Like a meal made with one ingredient or a song that features only one instrument, single variety wines are sometimes less interesting and harmonious than blends.

Red wine blends may be labeled a variety of ways. Some popular blends you may see in Temecula include “Meritage” or “Super Tuscan” wines, but wineries frequently give their blends proprietary names, such as Monte de Oro’s Synergy 65, Callaway’s Calliope Red or Wilson Creek’s Double Dog Red.  This is a fun way of making the wine more identifiable, but it also signifies that the winery has truly created a wine that is theirs and theirs alone, since no two blends are exactly alike!

*See below for more Temecula red blends.

 

Here are five fun facts about red wine blends!

Facts courtesy of The Daily NewsWikipedia, Wine.LoveToKnow
  1. Bordeaux blends: Red Bordeaux blends are generally made from a combination primarily dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot.  They also often include Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère.
  2. A red Meritage is a Bordeaux-style wine made in California that is a combination of at least two of six varietals:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot or Carmenère.
  3. A Super Tuscan originally served as reference to an Italian viticulture region. While some Super Tuscans are single varietal, most are blends primarily containing Sangiovese or Merlot, some are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, and some even more unusual blends which might include Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.
  4. GSM is a classic combination of three grape varieties (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre) from the southern Rhone Valley.  It is also referred to as a Southern Rhone blend.
  5. Rhone blends from France’s Rhone Valley can contain up to 22 varieties.  As the US has only 12 of those varietals planted, New World wines are most often a combination Syrah and Viognier blended with Mourvèdre, Grenache, Roussanne and Marsanne, and perhaps Counoise, Cinsaut, Grenache Blanc and Petite Sirah.


 

Looking for a great Temecula Valley red wine blend?  Check these wines out!

 

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Five Fun Facts About… Merlot

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Considered one of the most food-friendly and approachable wines on the planet, Merlot surged to popularity in the United States in the 1990s. Now wine-lovers can find great Merlot and delicious Merlot blends from all over the world – from South America to France to Italy to right here in Temecula Valley, California.

Here are five fun facts about Merlot!

Sourced from Snooth/Wikipedia
  1. Did you know the word “merlot” translates to “young blackbird” in French? The name was thought to have been given either because of the grape’s beautiful blue-black color, or blackbird’s fondness for grapes.
  2. Merlot’s flavor profile fluctuates within the sweetness spectrum. Cooler climates bring out hints of berries, plum, and even tobacco. Merlot grown in hotter climates might mimic flavors found in fruitcake or chocolate.
  3. A bit about Merlot blends: When Merlot first arrived in California, it mostly sold as single varietal bottlings (100% Merlot) until winemakers began blending it with other red grapes in the French Bordeaux tradition. Now, California’s Meritage wines are a signature of the state and always include Merlot as one of the essential blending grapes.
  4. Merlot is so popular because of the grape’s ability to please all palates. Wines can range from very fruity simple wines to more serious, barrel-aged bottles.
  5. Merlot has a high sugar content and low acidity, which makes it a very food-friendly wine, able to be paired with a variety of dishes. For example, Cabernet-like Merlots pair well with grilled meats. Softer, fruitier Merlots go well with salmon, mushroom-based dishes and greens. Light-bodied Merlots pair well with shellfish like prawns or scallops, especially if wrapped in bacon or prosciutto.

 

Looking for a great bottle of Temecula Valley MerlotCheck these wines out!

 

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5 Fun Facts About…Grenache

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Grenache (pronounced gren-aash) is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world!  Primarily featured in Rhone-style blends, it’s a star in the famous trio of GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre.)  The reason why Grenache is so valued in wine blends is because it brings body and fruitiness without the added tannins.

Grenache grapes

The characteristic notes of Grenache are berry fruit such as raspberries and strawberries.  Grenache-based wines can develop complex and intense notes flavors including  black currants, black cherries, black olives, coffee, gingerbread, honey, leather, black pepper, tar, spices, and roasted nuts.

 

 

Here are five fabulous facts about this blending master! 

Facts courtesy of Wikipedia.
    1. France and Spain are Grenache’s largest principal wine regions, followed by Australia and the United States.
    2. Rosé grenaches are often characterized by their strawberry and cream notes, like this South Coast Winery award-winner; $14.
    3. Grenache vines bud early and require a long growing season in order to fully ripen. This grape is often one of the last to be harvested, often ripening weeks after Cabernet Sauvignon.  It thrives in warm, dry conditions – like Temecula Valley!
    4. The long ripening process = high levels of sugar, which means Grenache-based wines are capable of substantial alcohol levels, often at least 15%.
    5. Grenache blanc is the light-skinned cousin to Grenache – and a very important white grape variety in France, planted fourth after Chardonnay, Semillion, and Ugni blanc.

 

Interested in tasting Grenache in action?  Check these Temecula Valley wineries off your list for fall – and order your holiday wines early.  Grenache is a classic light red that pairs perfectly with your Thanksgiving turkey.

 

In the chorus of Rhone varieties, Grenache rarely gets to perform solo… The grape often appeals to winegrowers because of it’s workhorse-like productivity in early years of the life of the vine.  But it may appeal to consumers, particularly as the vine ages, because of wines light in tannin that can have a faint sweetness and high degree of alcohol. Even though the day of our tasting was still warm, it strikes me now as an excellent transitional red as the weather has cooled.” – Dr. Vino.com

Grenache vineyards in Temecula Valley.
Photo courtesy of Who, What, Where, Wine.

 

 

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Winemaker’s Roundtable: Five Facts About Tempranillo

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

As we head toward cooler temperatures and heartier fare, we’re partial to bold reds to warm us up and stand up to big flavors. Tempranillo is a great choice if you’re in the mood for a more intense red wine with hints of berries and plums.

 

 

  1. Tempranillo is a thick-skinned, black grape also known as the “noble grape” in its native Spain. The grape was brought to America, possibly as seeds, with the Spanish Conquistadors in the 17th century.
  2. Tempranillo came to California bearing the name Valdepenas.
  3. The Tempranillo grape is the main ingredient in Spanish Rioja and is often used in other blends due to its low acidity.
  4. Beef, lamb and sheep’s milk cheese such as manchego are all ideal to pair with Tempranillo. Of course, traditonal Spanish tapas are always a great choice to serve this wine.
  5. Many of our wineries produce this beautiful, powerful red which is the perfect wine for rich, holiday dishes. If you’re a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon but have never tried Tempranillo, here are a few to get you started: Masia de Yabar, Danza del Sol, Europa Village, and Frangipani Winery.
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Winemaker’s Roundtable: Five Facts About Bordeaux Blends

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

For this edition of Winemaker’s Roundtable, we’re talking about Bordeaux Blends- specifically, red Bordeaux blends. These lush, deeply rich wines are called Meritage here in California, and Temecula Valley wineries offer a fine variety of what would be a great pairing to a holiday meal.

  1. Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in Southwest France, and is the world’s premier wine industry capital. Bordeaux’s defining characteristics are its limestone soils and the neighboring rivers, which are used to irrigate the land.
  2. A red Bordeaux wine is a blend of two or more of these five grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
  3. In 1988, a small group of Napa Valley vintners formed The Meritage Association, using the term “meritage” (a combination of merit and heritage, and pronounced like the latter) to denote red and white Bordeaux-style wines made outside of Bordeaux. The term “Meritage” was created to avoid using the name “Bordeaux” for wines that are not actually produced in the Bordeaux region.
  4. Because the percentage of each grape used in Bordeaux blends varies, each year’s vintage brings different flavors and nuances, making tasting Bordeaux blends a fun and interesting experience. Red Bordeaux blends typically are rich, full-bodied wines with notes of black currant, blackberries, cocoa and cherries.
  5. Bordeaux-style wines go well with grilled steak, rack of lamb, or even game meats like venison or duck. Several Temecula Valley wineries offer wonderful Meritage wines perfect for the holidays or simply your next meal:
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