Blend it like Beckham

The “Daily Mail’ reported that A-list celebs, David and Victoria Beckham, have bought a vineyard in California. They plan to produce Chateau Posh although the paper didn’t speculate on what sort of wine they intend to make. If the Beckhams decide to make a red wine there’s a chance it will be a blend of two or more grape varieties.

Blending can be a convenient way to get rid of odds and ends in a cheap and cheerful Dry White or Dry Red but it is also a useful weapon in the armoury of the fine wine maker. The objective of blending is to produce a wine that is better than any of its parts. Cabernet Sauvignon is a noble grape variety but it can demand bottle age to modify astringent tannins. Blend it with the softer, flavour compatible Merlot and it is possible to make an even classier wine that’s ready to drink earlier.

Blending can also give something for nothing. For example, if you blend a one year-old wine with a nine year-old wine in equal parts it tastes older than the expected five year average because the older component has a stronger influence. That’s a good thing when making tawny port or an aged sherry where older is better.

Blending can even out the highs and lows caused by vintage variation. The French Champagne region teeters on the edge of being able to make acceptable wine because the area is rather cool with varying vintage conditions. By blending wines from different vintages producers can level the bumps and maintain consistent quality and style year after year in their non-vintage (NV) wines.

First published in KiaOra Magazine – Oct 2010.

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