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The Art of Blending “The story of Meritage”

December 2, 2010 11:42 am - Posted by otta in Drink, Learn

“Blending is one of the few tools winemakers have to accentuate what Mother Nature creates”

Let me just clear something up right at the beginning.  Meritage is a word created in North America by combining 2 words: Merit and Heritage. So please do not pronounce it with French accent and be proud of your linguistic skills. Pronunciation should rhyme with the word heritage. Sometimes I think the  world of wine conspires to never let us be able to confidently pronounce the name of any wine – well maybe that’ll be the subject of another blog.

Meritage is a blend of at least 2 different Bordeaux grape varieties but  a much wider set of rules apply when producing this blend. To be able to label their wine Meritage, vintners have to become a part of Meritage Alliance of USA, and pay a fee $1 per case  for up to $500 per vintage.  Vintners also have to agree that no grape variety will exceed 90% of the blend and they also recommended that total production does not exceed 25 000 cases per vintage.

Grape varieties allowed for Red Meritage are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec , Carmenere, Petit Verdot  and the less known Gros Verdot and St. Macere.

Grape Varieties permitted for a White Meritage are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle.

The Meritage Alliance started in 1988 when a small group of vintners and growers in California wanted to find an equivalent to Super Tuscans and Bordeaux wines. From small beginnings the Alliance now has over 250 members, including international wineries.

So now that we know all about Meritage it begs the question, why do vintners blend wine in the first place? Well it is to create a better overall experience for the wine consumer. If you think about it, blending is like using spices while cooking where a little bit of this and little bit of that will make the final product even better.

If you never tried a Meritage don’t be afraid of the French sounding name, simply pick one up in your local store and try it. You’ll see it goes well with a wide variety of dishes as Meritage is a very flexible wine.

Blog by Otta Zapotocky

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