Where the artistry of the winemaker emerges Beauty in the blend
You’ll ;nd these ;ne blends at select
Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red
Columbia Valley, WA Item #679756
Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain
Red Mountain AVA, WA Item #63412
Francis Coppola Diamond Collection
Claret, California Item #211159
Nine Hats Red Wine
Columbia Valley, WA Item #616286
Columbia Crest H3 Les Chevaux
Horse Heaven Hills, WA Item #661918
Villa Antinori Toscana
Tuscany, Italy Item #799299
Château de la Cour d’Argent Red Blend,
Bordeaux, France Item #721314
Now, limited percentages of Cabernet and
Merlot are allowed in Chianti blends.
By Annette Alvarez-Peters
RED WINE BLENDS are
among the most popular
wines today, but many
times people may not even
realize that’s what they are
drinking. It’s common for
winemakers to create
unique combinations of
varietals to give wine lovers the best of what nature provides in the
vineyards. Think of it this way: Winemakers
are similar to artists, using various components, dimensions and textures to delight
enthusiasts with the fruits of their labor. And,
depending on where the wine is made, winemakers around the world follow different
rules, with deliciously different results.
In Bordeaux, for example, where world-class wines are made, the only varietals
allowed are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot,
Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec—
often referred to as “Bordeaux varietals” in
other parts of the world.
On the other hand, in California, winemakers can choose any grape varietal at their
disposal and are known to produce fantastic
red blends—similar to Bordeaux in composition, with beautiful dark cherry and ripe fruit-forward notes, amazing structure and
elegance in an enormous range of styles.
Trendy red blends can consist of Zinfandel,
Syrah or Petite Syrah along with noble varietals made famous in Bordeaux, such as a
Cabernet or Merlot. These deep, dark-colored
wines, with flavors of juicy blackberry and
plum, can entice a variety of palates at an
Rhône’s noteworthy blends
As in Bordeaux, Rhône Valley laws dictate
the varietals used for winemaking. In the
north, Syrah is king, and (depending on the
appellation) a small percentage of aromatic
white grapes can be blended with it. Viognier
adds perfume and texture, while Marsanne
and Rousanne can take on lovely fruit flavors.
The age-worthy northern Rhône wines can be
powerful and bold, with remarkable elegance.
In southern Rhône, the beautiful vineyards scattered with large pebbles (called
galet) are a winemaker’s dream. Only 13 varietals are allowed in this area, with Grenache
being the dominant grape, followed by Syrah
and Mourvèdre. Blending is key for the perfectly composed red wines in this appellation.
Due to the warmer vintages of recent
years, the wines have a unique fruit ripeness
with a fantastic texture. The stunning, age-worthy Châteauneuf-du-Pape displays aromas and flavors of red and black fruit, white
pepper and minerals.
Changing times in Italy
In Tuscany, the predominant grape is
Sangiovese, but the region is also home to
spectacular growing areas for Cabernet
Sauvignon and Merlot. Blending these three
grape varietals creates the “Super Tuscans”—
solid, dense and complex wines that demonstrate that Tuscan red wines do not all adhere
to long-established blending laws in Italy.
Blending laws have also changed in
Chianti. Traditionally, the famous wines from
this region consisted of at least 70 percent
Sangiovese, blended with Italian white grapes.
The wonders of Washington
Washington state is a diverse winegrowing region that is home to a wide range of
grape varietals. The state lies on the same latitude as Bordeaux, and wine lovers often compare and contrast the Cabernet and Merlot
blends from the Columbia Valley or Walla
Walla to those from Bordeaux regions, such
as Saint-Émilion or the Médoc. These
Washington wines tend to deliver luscious,
dark fruit, while Bordeaux products take on
earthy flavors with notes of minerality.
Washington also excels at growing Syrah
and Grenache—which are also dominant
grapes in France’s Rhône Valley. These
domestic wines are approachable and fruit
forward, and offer some of the best values
around. Whether the wine is dominated by
Cabernet or Merlot, Syrah or Grenache,
Washington winemakers have borrowed a
blending page from the French and are producing excellent blends marked by amazing
purity of fruit and outstanding acidity.
On your next trip to Costco, why not
choose a red blend you have yet to experience?
When you uncork your next bottle, I am sure
you will have an appreciation for the winemaker as a true artist. Cheers! C
Annette Alvarez-Peters oversees Costco’s wine,
beer and spirits program.
TO FIND which Costco warehouses
carry wine, go to Costco.com, click
on “Costco Connection Magazine,”
then “Beer, Wine & Spirits Locator.”
You can also find notes on Kirkland
Signature™ wines under “Kirkland
Signature Wine Connection.”