A year in a French vineyard: September 2019

The craft and skill of the wine blender - Jonathan Hesford explores the theory and practice of blending different varieties

There are some people who seek purity in wine. They want to taste something unique and well-defined rather than a blend of flavours but ultimately all wines are blends.

Even a single vineyard of the same grape variety is a blend of grapes from different bunches from different vines.

When I worked in New Zealand, there was a definite bias towards wines from a single grape variety, known as a “varietal” wine. I think this bias comes from the Scottish heritage and the connection with whisky where Single Malts are regarded as superior to blends.

However, many of the world’s most famous wines are blended from two or more varieties. Bordeaux nearly always contains Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with the possible addition of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Rioja is blended from Grenache and Tempranillo and Châteauneuf-du-Pape can be a blend of up to 13 different grape varieties.

Those regions have a long history of growing different ...

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