March 20, 2013 —
When NOT to Blend
Recently I was working with a winery who had a wonderful 2012 harvest of Vermentino. My standard procedure for presenting wines to the winery owner is to make at least two different blends and use a sample of the single varietal wine for comparison.
I set up a blind tasting for three of the winery owners. As each wine was tasted, we discussed the pros and cons. Usually one blend rises to the top and a relatively easy choice can be made or we may determine to make another blend. However, this time, no one wine rose head and shoulders above the others. They were all very good!
So what should you do?
RULE: A blend should always be better than the individual components.
Blended wines are almost always better than a single varietal wine. As we have discussed before in “To Blend or Not to Blend,” the great wines of the world are premium blends. Could some of these vintners make excellent single grape wines? Absolutely. But there are too many changing factors that affect each harvest for the maker to bank on it year after year. Thus blends are typically better for the winemaker to create a consistent quality wine each harvest.
However, boutique and small wineries have more flexibility. They can afford to single out a wonderful, exclusive wine and possibly never be able to offer it again. If a blend is not better than the single grape vintage, you must choose the unblended wine. There is no reason to offer an inferior or an even-equality blend.
We all knew the Vermentino was exceptional, but we still created the blends to make sure. If we hadn’t bothered to make the blends, we would have second-guessed ourselves because 9 times out of 10, the wine will be better by blending. It’s a once-in-a-decade wine that is best standing alone. This rarity makes it something very special. And this immediately gives the winery a wonderful story. So, enjoy it!
Sometimes SIMPLICITY is better!
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