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Ultimate blends: Great grape combinations (White Blends)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Most people don’t realize that rarely are the wines that they drink one hundred percent of the grape that it is advertised to be, and this also depends upon where the wine was produced as well. An example of this is a bottle of chardonnay from the United States has to have at least seventy-five percent of its contents to actually be the chardonnay grape, while in Europe it has to be eighty five percent. This is due to the wine laws set down by the governing bodies for those regions. And of course, there are obviously some other laws making it tighter in certain places in those particular regions. For example, in the state of Oregon, the percentage is raised to ninety, with the exception of Cabernet Sauvignon still being set at the national standard. In the area of Champagne, in France, a blanc de blancs Champagne is made from one hundred percent chardonnay grapes.

But let’s get away from the issue of standard legal percentages, and let’s start to look at wines that are an advertised and produced blend of more than one grape; this is to say that the quantities of percentages of each grape is not in excess of seventy five percent, usually. Along these lines, there are a number of wines, both red and white, that fall into this category, and are actually very good sellers. Some of these wines simply are a combination of two grapes, or varietals, while one that I have sampled even has nine different grapes in it.

Now let me say here that the art of blending wines is truly a talent, and some people can go to great lengths to make a superb tasting wine, while some people go to even great lengths to produce a fraudulent wine; check out the book “The Billionaire’s Vinegar.” Outside of the illegal trade, matching up two of more grapes and blending them into a great product, let alone a good product is not the easiest thing to do because there are so many other pieces of the puzzle to put together, but let’s not get into all of that. Winemakers have been making blends for centuries, trying to find ways to either tame certain aspects of a certain grape, or to impart certain other characters to a wine. Over time, they found that there are certain combinations which just work right, but as time has passed, and new winemaking techniques have come into play, others have discovered some new combinations et al that allow for even more play. Now let’s just look at the fruits of their labors, and enjoy them on our own levels.

On my website, while I have classified/sorted wine reviews in regards to country, type and specific grape, I have also allow people to view blends by white or red (www.theblackwiner.com/wines/White_Blend_wines_black_winer.a sp), and in going to this page for white blends, it comes up with at least eight results for white wine blends, but I am going to address two more.

Starting with white wine blends that have only two grapes involved, there are Ecco Domani’s Chardonnay-Pinot Grigio and Pine Ridge’s Chenin Blanc-Viognier. While the Ecco Domani gives you a little bit more flavor then the traditionally imported Pinot Grigio [which is about the lightest wine you can have, and seems just a little bit more than water], the Pine Ridge totally tames the wild unpredictability of the Viognier grape with the tried and true Chenin Blanc. In the case of the E.D. I wrote “60% Chard, with the remaining 40% being the Pinot Grigio gives this wine an interesting, and somewhat sophisticated taste that has your palate set, not seesawing as to find the dominant grape. It's crisp and refreshing, with a hint of sophisticated smoothness that you would think of in a song by Luther Vandross or Sinatra.” In the case of the Pine Ridge, “Tasting this blend was a very exciting experience. I must admit that my mother is the pear nut, not me, but if you could mix what would seem to be the taste of Honeydew melons, possibly Cantaloupe, and Bosc pears in one drink, this was it.” Each of these wines can be had for less that $11 a bottle in NJ and DE.

There is also Masianco, by Italian producer Masi, which is known for their Amarones. Masianco is what's called a SuperVenetian. It's 75% Pinot Grigio and 25% Verduzzo. Giving off a wonderful aroma, it has an even better taste, basically the second grape cuts the Pinot Grigio the right way, giving you a unique taste that has both tropical and citrus hints and undertones. The price on this ranges from $12-$16.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention to you Caymus Conundrum and Evolution. Conundrum (www.conundrumwines.com) runs about $25 a bottle, but it’s worth it. The grapes are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscat Canelli. It also has small amounts of Viognier and Semillon as well. The wine itself has a thickness to it that flows like a heavy set of satin sheets, and the taste is truly decadent. This is a wine that unless you are making some good guap, that it would be better to purchase and drink at home rather than a bar.

Evolution (www.evolutionwine.com) is in a class all by itself, consisting of Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Silvaner, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Semillon, and Muller-Thurgau. Each grape contributes different aspects to the wine, as in perfume, floral aromas, herbaceous character, peach/melon taste flavors, tropical fruit, honey/pear character, melon/green apple flavor and light spice. I first heard about this wine from a DC native who is in school for their music degree.

If you go onto my site (www.theblackwiner.com), you’ll inevitably find some detailed reviews on several white blends not mentioned here as well. Now, as we have gone through white wine blends, next week, we will tackle red wine blends, and it seems that there are even more of them in the traditional sense than the whites.

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