Domestic Sluttery is changing! Visit our new homepage to check out our fabulous makeover.


Wednesday 23 November 2011

Weekly Wine: Beautiful Blends

You might think that opting for a one-grape wine (or single varietal as we wine geeks call them) is the safest bet if you're looking for quality, but it ain't necessarily so.

A wine made from only one grape variety can in many cases show off a grape's individual characteristics at its best, but personally I think teamwork is the way forward. It's all about harmonising, and trying to find the perfect balance of styles. I mean, take Grease for example (always a good benchmark). If you stick to one-grape wines, then you'll never find those blends that go together like shoobop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom. Ahem.

Many of the world's finest wines are blends. All those big Bordeaux wines with knock-your-socks-off prices? Blends. Because the winemakers recognise that the power and structure of Cabernet Sauvignon needs the softness of Merlot to make a truly successful wine that will age for decades. Obviously the less ouch-priced wines follow suit, so for an affordable example from the always-popular Chateau Beaumont, try The Society's Exhibition Haut-Medoc for £12.50 from The Wine Society.

And wine giant of the Rhone Chateauneuf-du-Pape can be made of a blend of up to thirteen grape varieties - though most stick to four of five, with powerful Grenache, structured mourvedre, and peppery, jammy Syrah making up most of the blend. You can get cheaper examples, but I think Perrin et Fils are such staunchly reliable producers that the Waitrose Chateauneuf-du-Pape at £19.99 is a cracking example at an affordable - if not everyday - budget. 

Rioja is always predominantly Tempranillo, but the best examples blend it with a few other varieties to give better balance. A totally dreamy example of this is the Rioja Reserva made by Marques de Murrieta, especially this 2004/2005 vintage buy from Majestic for £15.99 if you buy two.

Oh yes, it isn't about pedigree in this game: a lot of the best wines in the world are mongrels. Think about it: you probably wouldn't expect your meal at the most swankified restaurant in town to be made of just one ingredient.

Making specific recommendations of blends is tricky: they are quite literally everywhere you look. And they don't all have to be as pricey as the premium examples I've mentioned. Here are a couple more of my favourite pairings at a slightly friendlier price:

Marsanne-Roussanne: Rhone blends don't have to be red, as this Marks and Spencer offering proves. This Crozes-Hermitage is a great year, and a lovely illustration of how Marsanne and Roussanne can be very harmonious indeed. It's £65.94 for 6 (£10.99 a bottle).

Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre from outside the Rhone: Penfolds are one of the giants of the wine world, but this offering from Tesco is a great value way to sample both a super name and a pleasing blend. It's £78 for 6 (£13 a bottle.)

Sauvignon-Semillon: Another classic Bordeaux blend that has spread like wildfire worldwide. Again, looking for a good producer is key. Stella Bella's Skuttlebutt wines are some of my favourite ever (and not just for the silly name), and their Sauvignon-Semillon blend is £10.79 from Lavertons.

You can always natter away about wine with the Sluts on our Facebook and Twitter pages!

Image from jamesonf's photostream under the creative commons license.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...