Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bon Vivant Wine Tasting

Bordeaux Style Blends

  1. Five varietals of Bordeaux – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petite Verdot. Bordeaux was traditionally made from a blend of these five varietals usually in this order, but these days it is more often made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with the possible addition of Cabernet Franc. Malbec has become the dominant grape in Argentina as a stand alone varietal. Petite Verdot is not used very often and then only in small percentages.

Taste the following:
1) 2000 Terra Blanca Merlot – Merlot is usually soft and fruity, however, this Washington State wine is from Red Mountain where wine usually have more punch. What do you think?
2) 1999 Three Rivers Cabernet Sauvignon – Cab. Sauv. provides the backbone or structure of the wine. It is usually bigger and harder than Merlot. Is this true of the Washington wine?
3) 2000 Edgewood Cabernet Franc – This California winery is one of the few to make 100% pure examples of many of the Bordeaux blending grapes. This way you can taste several of the Bordeaux-style varietals where the only difference is the grape, since the year the wine was made and the winemaker are the same. Cabernet Franc is the main grape in Loire Valley wines from France which are typically soft, velvety and delicious. They are not well known in the U.S. and thus a good value. Look for Chinon and Bourgueil in wine shops, online and in Supermarkets with top notch wine departments. Check out Kermit Lynch. They will ship from their California.
4) 2000 Edgewood Malbec – Does this taste like an Argentinian wine?
5) 1999 Edgewood Tradition – Here is the Bordeaux blend from Edgewood . Can you taste the Merlot? The Malbec? Cab Franc? Cab Sauv?


  1. Interestingly, it is easier to find blends of four or five of these varietals in the U.S. than in Bordeaux. In California, the wines are frequently called Meritage which is a made up term combining the words Merit and Heritage. This is not a French word and is not pronounced with a French sounding ending. It is Merit + (Herit)age! Wineries have to pay a hefty fee to use this term and many in California just call their blends Red Table Wine or Proprietary Wine. Proprietary wines have names like Phelps Insignia, Flora Springs Trilogy and Opus One.
Taste: Beringer Alluvium. Does this taste more like a big California Wine or lighter Claret?

  1. In the Northwest, these blends are called Red Table Wine or Bordeaux-Style wine. Examples are Cuneo Two Rivers made in Oregon and Cadence Coda made in Seattle from Red Mountain grapes from Eastern Washington
Taste: Cadence Coda – Is this a harmonious, delicious blend or what?

  1. In Bordeaux, wines are named by the village and chateaux (winery) they come from. Most good Bordeaux comes from grapes grown by the winery that made the wine. In the States, as often as not (especially in Washington) the winery purchases grapes from a vineyard where the grapes are grown.
Taste: 1989 Chateau Grand Mayne (winery), St Emilion (village) – Wines from St. Emilion and Pomerol are predominately Merlot. Can you taste the Merlot?
1990 Cos Labory, St Estephe – Wines from this village, Pauillac, St. Julien, and Margaux are mostly Cabernet Sauvignon. Is this wine harder or softer that the St.Emilion? Or do they both seem hard? French wines are not as fruit forward and user-friendly as California wines. Northwest wines are usually somewhere in between. French wines are made to go with food, since the French don’t drink wine as a cocktail as we do.

Have Fun!

Gene

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