What Does Bordeaux Blend Mean and How is linked to Meritage?
On our last post, we wrote about wine blends and we quickly described some popular ones, leaving you with the unfinished subject of the most famous of all, the red Bordeaux one.
WHAT IS THE BORDEAUX BLEND?
Each grape expresses typical characteristics. Their union, in different percentages according to the various areas and producers, allows to obtain that harmony and balance that have made the history of the famous bottles of Bordeaux.
The grapes that ripen first are those of Merlot, which gives these wines color, fruity aromas and round mouthfeel. The Cabernet Sauvignon is fundamental for the wine structure and body; it also brings solid tannins and good acidity to the blend. Cabernet Franc above all, has the advantage of being more resistant to cold vintages; it is less tannic, more austere and enriches the bouquet of herbal notes.
Petit Verdot, only used in marginal percentages, is characterized by an important tannic texture and a spicy bouquet, while Malbec and Carmenere, once important part of the blend for their fruity depth and concentration, have now been almost completely abandoned.
Bordeaux blend is a wonderful food wine. In Wine Picker, our food and wine matching app, we recommend to pair it with a juicy Sirloin steak or Filet Mignon, as well as grilled pork chops or roasted lamb shoulder.
2004 Chateau Haut-Bergey from Pessac-Leognan region which lays on Bordeaux left bank
HOW DOES THE BORDEAUX BLEND VARY ACROSS THE REGION?
The percentage of grapes in the blend varies not only according to the wine style, but also to the different areas of Bordeaux, more or less suited for the cultivation of each vine. Obviously each denomination and each Chateau has its own “recipe”, depending on the characteristics of the terroir and the vintages.
Two main sub-areas can be defined, in reference to the two banks of the Garonne river:
Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of this area. Famous appellations include Haut Medoc, Pauillac, Saint Julien and Margaux. Wines are full, powerful and tannic. Some of the most expensive producers are based on this bank.
Here Merlot is dominant with wines that are rounder and more fruit driven. Famous appellations include Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. Generally speaking, wines tend to be less expensive and be ready to drink much earlier.
WHY IS THE BORDEAUX BLEND SO FAMOUS ACROSS THE WORLD?
Bordeaux is universally known for possessing ideal wine-growing conditions of soil and climate, and a age-old tradition of winemaking, but its fame would not be so big if it wasn’t for its location.
Indeed, Bordeaux commercial port has always had a strategic role in international exchanges in terms of visitors and goods. This allowed local winemakers to be in touch with wealthy merchants from all over the world and to gain worldwide attentions for their wines.
What is Meritage?
Ever heard of Meritage wines? Personally, I only found out quite recently about this label.
Well, Meritage is a trademark, given by the homonymous association and used for New World wines to indicate Bordeaux style wines. To apply for it, the wine has to be blended entirely from traditional Bordeaux varieties, with no more than 90% of a single grape.
…as you can see there’s always more to learn!
Te Mata Estate Winery, Coleraine, Hawke’s Bay 2013 from New Zealand made of Bordeaux Blend Red