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For some reason, white blends are not as talked about as much as many other styles of wine. For instance, red blends range from a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc to the chart-topping The Prisoner from California.
On top of not talking about white wine blends, people don’t really buy them that often either, with domestic and international white blends accounting for only 1.7% of sales in the United States. On the opposite side, we have red blends that led the way with 12.3% of wine sales. Why is the divide this significant?
While the common explanation would be the number of white blend bottles produced are fewer, so then, fewer are sold. Another explanation states that it’s easier for wine enthusiasts to pick a bottle labelled by varietal, like Chardonnay or Merlot, as opposed to by region such as Chablis, which requires more knowledge. This, however, doesn’t explain everything either. Even in the Old World, where white blends are a notch more popular, they still only account for up to 3% of most region’s production.
White blend wines are often being a much better value for money and are offering reliable age-worthiness and unique complexity, and can be infinitely more interesting and intriguing than your varietal whites. Plus, they are a great alternative to premium priced reds.
The most notable white blends are Bordeaux White Blend, Southern Rhone White Blend and White Rioja. While there are hundreds of such wines from Canada, California, Chile, Brazil, Australia, Argentina, France, Spain and other countries, the three above should definitely be on your radar.
These days, Bordeaux is associated with all sorts of red wines almost subconsciously. After all, some of the most famous and expensive reds are made in the area. However, up until the late 1970s, the region was predominantly white grape growing, introducing classic white blends, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, for instance.
The blends of the region range in styles from young, fresh and a little bitter to aged and lusciously sweet. The Bordeaux winemakers describe Sauvignon Blanc as the fundamental of every Bordeaux white blend that adds proper structure and acidity. Moreover, a few years age of the Sauvignon Blanc will add a notch of charm and an extra dimension to the wine.
The most popular region for that is Pessac-Leognan, where white blends are known for their velvety and luxurious character with noticeable notes of nectarine and sweet baked apple. As they age, they get more delicious by developing more honey and candied fruit flavours.
Note that the mixture of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc isn’t exclusive to Bordeaux only, with many New World winemakers, like Australia, adding similar features to their wines.
Southern Rhone White Blend
France’s Southern Rhone region takes the art of blending wines very seriously. For instance, on their famous wine, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, is a mixture of up to 13 different grape varieties!
The main three are Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Viognier, which are later on mixed with Marsanne, Clairette, Picpoul Blanc, Bourboulenc, and Ugni Blanc. The blend has been copied by a lot of the New World winemakers from California, Australia, and South America.
The white blends from the region are known for their honeyed richness, fruity, floral and aromatic characteristics as well as their vibrancy and acidity.
White Rioja blend is made of up to seven grape varieties. The most prominent two are fruity and aromatic Malvasia and rich charactered Viura. While Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc aren’t popular in the region, once in a blue moon, they are added just to add a tiny bit of freshness and brightness to the blends.
There are different classifications for this region, starting from Joven, less than 15 months old and going up to Gran Reserva, aged for at least 48 months, with six months of which have to be in a barrel, not a bottle. Citrus driven and acidic, the bold is incredibly aromatic yet bold, with nutty and fruity notes.
Looking for a bottle for a special occasion or just to give it a shot? Buy white wine blends at our store in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, or shop online at ZYN.ca!
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