We know that wine comes from grapes, and we know many of those grapes by name. Wines can either be single varietals, where the wine in the bottle will be entirely made up of one type of grape, or a blend of two or more grape varieties.
Single varietal wines
Single varietals are popular for a number of reasons. In an old world country like France, some regions are famous for producing single varietal wines, although they don’t label their wine in this way. Take Burgundy, for example, where most of their white wines are 100% Chardonnay, and their reds 100% Pinot Noir. These single grape varieties are popular here because historically they have grown so well there, produced the best possible wines there, and are now legally designated. In new world producer countries, there are rarely such restrictions and winemakers produce single varietal wines for more commercial reasons, so customers may better understand the offer.
Red wine blends
On the other hand, blends are also very popular. Here, the winemaker uses a blend of two or more grape varieties to produce a particular wine. Let’s look at some other popular red wine blends.
This is a blend of Shiraz (also known as Syrah) with Cabernet Sauvignon. Shiraz produces full-bodied wines with lots of dark fruit characteristics and a distinct peppery spiciness. Cabernet Sauvignon also produces full-bodied reds, with a lot of tannin and structure. Combined, Shiraz Cabernet wines pack a serious punch! There are many great examples of this blend available, and some of our favourites include:
- Enrique Mendoza Cabernet Shiraz comes from the Alicante region of Spain. It is a rich and full-bodied wine that displays the best of its composite grapes to produce a distinctive style. A wine like this just begs to be served with food, so look to pair this with equally big dishes like roast and grilled meats and game.
- Summa Varietalis 2008, from Pagos de Familia Marqués de Griñon, is a Shiraz Cabernet blend with a twist – it also has a percentage of Petit Verdot in there for good measure. Petit Verdot is a famously difficult grape and can make very harsh tasting wines, but in this case it really adds another layer of density and structure. As a result, this one will need to be decanted before serving, but again will be an excellent pairing for your full-flavoured meat dishes.
The Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Merlot is widely used in places like France, South Africa, the USA and even India. Unsurprisingly, it’s in Bordeaux that the blend really comes into its own.
- Château Gloria 2007 is a seriously affordable and ready-to-drink wine from a top producer in the prestigious Saint Julien region.
- Les Pagodes de Cos 2007 is the second wine of the esteemed Château Cos d’Estournel. Wines from this region of Bordeaux, Saint Estephe, tend to go heavier on the Cabernet than Merlot and can be very powerful indeed, but this is a fine example of the Bordeaux blend at its best.
Spain has a love affair with the Tempranillo grape, and it forms the basis of much of the finest wines of Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro. Try a few of these examples to see how versatile Tempranillo can be when blended with other varieties:
- Abadal Cabernet Franc Tempranillo combines Tempranillo with the “other” Cabernet from Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc. The result is a concentrated and unusual “concept” wine that is well worth trying.
- Torres Coronas is a blend of Tempranillo with Cabernet Sauvignon, which gives a distinguished wine with a full body, good structure and ripe tannin.