Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Its a vineyard blend

I was at a wine tasting this afternoon with Jon Campbell from DeFine food and Wine, at his very nice shop in Sandiway. We were tasting a range of wines that had been sent in for the Cheshire Smoke house, and I had gatecrashed the event (invited). In all I must have tasted about fifteen wines this afternoon, and there were quite a few that struck a cord and I think that I will end up listing four or more of them. But there were a few wines that I just thought "What the *£%* is that???" The one that springs to mind was a Chenin Blanc/Grenache/Chardonnay blend. What a bizarre combination to string together. Dont get me wrong, I love the kind of wines where a winemaker has gone out on a limb to blend together something different and create something great, but I just dont get this one. What does each element bring to the wine - Chenin blanc - crisp acidity, green apple flavours - Chardonnay - body and depth and again green citrussy apple flavours - Grenache Blanc - oilyness, aromatic components, body. Altogether I dont think this wine worked very well. Perhaps without the Chenin it might have worked as Chardonnay dominant with a small percentage of Grenache - similar to Qupe's Bien Nacido vineyard white which is a blend of chardonnay and viognier. Or the Chenin and the Grenache in much smaller quantities might have worked - after all there was a fantastic Chenin/Viognier blend there, and the Saxenburg Guinea fowl white is a Chenin/Viognier blend as well.

Customers like to identify with what is in a wine, and too many varieties is an off-putting factor. No-one wants to remember the 13 varieties that are permitted for use in a Chateauneuf*. The single biggest advantage that the New World has over the Old world is the use of varietal labelling. Customers ar familiar with the words Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Cabernet, Shiraz etc. They know what they are going to get. The most successful wines on supermarket shelves are single varietal wines. They have become so familiar that they can almost be considered as brands. So I will continue to seek out new and interesting wines, but I doubt that they will have too many varieties.

* for those that might be interested here are the 13 permitted varieties - Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Picpoul, Terret Noir, Counoise, Muscardin, Picardin, Vaccarese, Clairette, Roussane, and Bourboulenc

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