April 07, 2020

Blended Bold Red Wine

Red wines can be made as single variety expressions or as a blend of more than one variety. All the red varieties you could list can be made into single variety bottlings or blends.

Whilst many reds are blends, the history of winemaking in countries such as France and Italy demonstrate that the combination of some varieties together can produce fine wine.

The classic wines of Bordeaux, France for example are benchmarks – the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot led blends of the ‘Left-bank’ or the Merlot Cabernet Franc wines of the ‘Right-bank’ have been emulated in many other countries including New Zealand. The Rhone Valley GSM blends of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre (& others) is practiced elsewhere around the globe also.

New Zealand has been producing blended red wines for at least the last forty years with wines from Hawkes Bay, parts of Auckland, Northland and Canterbury consistently showing the best examples. Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon seem to be the most suitable varieties for blending.

Red blends are typically made by producing and maturing wines separately then blending together according to house style or what the vintage may dictate. Other red wines are matured separately for a shorter period of time then blended and further aged. Blended red wines will nearly always have oak aromas and flavors underpinning the core fruit listed above. Toasty wood and dark baking spice suggestions of clove and vanilla are common descriptors.

Big reds like the classics described above should have power and intensity on the nose, a seamless transition through to and on the palate, abundant acidity and noticeable tannins providing a foundation of structure and attributes for ageing. These wines are great accompaniments to menu items that have bold expressive flavors, an abundance of fresh protein and low spice. The younger and oakier the wine the leaner red meat can be or greener the vegetables can be. Add olives to fish dishes to dissolve away some of the pushier tannins.