No one needs to be told that today’s world is phenomenally fast-paced. Gone are the days of sending a fax and waiting for a reply, or going back even further (depending on how old you are), a memo. Today, if you don’t reply to an email within the hour, then you’re practically on your way to the job centre.
One of the terms that is bandied about very frequently is work-life balance. This is where we are advised to compartmentalise our day jobs and leave them in the office when we clock off. But realistically, completely separating work life from home life is impossible these days. Thus a new way of living has emerged: blended living. Blending is where instead of trying to divide your time into commute/office/home, you blend everything harmoniously together, so there are no specific divisions. Blending allows us to merge two things healthily, with one aspect complimenting the other. Blending requires flexibility and an understanding of quality over quantity. A successful blend not only makes life easier, but it also makes life better.
Why then am I talking about blending on a wine investment app blog? Well, my point on the benefits of blending your life to gain success and harmony is entirely relevant. Some of our best wines are blends and are well placed for serious ROI if you’re patient.
What Is Red Wine Blend?
A blended wine is a wine that is made from several grape varieties. Finding the right blend takes time and a considerable amount of skill and experience – the right (or wrong) blending can make (or break) the vintage, so the process must be done with infinite care. A red blend can be made with any combination of grapes, but there are a few classic blends that have stood the test of time. These are:
- Bordeaux Blend – very famous, very good. This is traditionally a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, although some producers like to mix things up a bit with small percentages of Petit Verdot, Malbec or Carmenere. This blend is as French as a baguette and is particularly popular for its history and smooth flavours of liquorice, chocolate, black cherry, and plum.
- Chianti – again, an old-world heavyweight. This is a famous blend that comes from the wine regions of Tuscany and contains at least 75% of Sangiovese grapes. The other 25% is made from Canniolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Cabernet Franc. Unsurprisingly, this is a wine that pairs particularly well with Italian food.
- SuperTuscan – Another Made in Italy Goliath. A SuperTuscan wine is any blended wine that does not follow DOC standards and uses international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in addition to Sangiovese. The influence of Bordeaux is very apparent.
- Rioja – a beautiful blend from the north of Spain. Rioja is a popular blend that contains 70% Tempranillo grapes, with Garnacha (Grenache), Mazuelo (Carignan) and Graciano making up the balance.
Why Do Winemakers Blend Reds?
To blend or not to blend, that is the question. Traditionally, winemakers blended their wines as it essentially allows them to craft their own product. While single varietals are nice, some producers feel they are too predictable. A splash of Merlot will help soften the palette of a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a dash of Syrah gives a bit of pizzazz to an unexciting Pinot Noir. By blending, you are taking the best aspects of two or three grapes and turning them into one beautiful product.
What About Red and White Grape Blends?
First, let’s get one thing straight. Despite what you may think, rosé wine is not a mix of red and white wines. Rosé is made from red wine grapes that have been crushed with minimal contact with the red skin.
So, are there any instances where red and white grapes are pressed together? Well, yes. Making wine by blending white and red grapes is not as rare as you might think. The most famous example of this is of course Champagne. The grapes primarily used for producing Champagne are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay but also a small amount of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Arbane, and Petit Meslier can be used as well. Rosé Champagne is made by adding a small amount of still Pinot Noir at the end of production.
Winemakers might also blend red and white grapes together in order to add flavours found only in a certain grape. This could also be done to increase acidity, ensure ageing or maintain a particular colour. Co-fermentation is also a thing, particularly with Syrah (which can be fermented with Viognier, depending on the labelling laws of each region)
5 Best Red Blends to Try
We have chosen our favourite red blends that are perfect for both your cellar and your portfolio!
2018 Château Laroque
Bordeaux, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Sold to the Beaumartins in 1935 after it had fallen into disrepair, Château Laroque is today one of the finest estates in St. Emilion. After over 60 years spent developing and extending the château’s vineyards, Laroque was finally awarded the recognition that it (and the Beaumartins) deserved with the château’s promotion to cru classé in the 1996 classification of Saint-Emilion. However, Laroque only really gets interesting for investors post-2015, after the replanted vineyards began giving fruit. This, along with a change in winemaking methods, including biodiverse, organic farming, makes Château Laroque the epitome of elegant, classically balanced St. Emilion.
2018 Opus One
Napa Valley, Oakville Napa Valley
Opus One’s entry into our cellars marks a milestone. As the first American to feature, we knew we needed to get a great wine with an exceptional pedigree. And the Opus One 2018 ticked all the boxes. It earned a near-perfect 99/100 from James Suckling and 98/100 from Wine Advocate, which called it “a triumph.” The 2018 vintage marks the summit of Opus One’s “Golden Age” and is perhaps one of the finest bottles the vineyard has ever produced. Our advice is to add it to your portfolio as soon as you can, as we guarantee this wine will never disappoint.
2018 Château Fleur Cardinale
Bordeaux, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Loved by critics and wine investors alike, Château Fleur Cardinale is one of the happy wines to have been promoted in the 2006 St. Emilion re-classification. This promotion to the premier league is down to the clever management, not to mention a vast injection of cash, by the current owners, Florence and Dominique Decoster. Possibly the most romantically named Château on the right bank, Fleur Cardinale owes its current name, Château Fleur Cardinale, to Jean-Louis Obissier, son of the mayor of Villerouge-Termenes who purchased Clos Bel-Air in 1975. It is said that the Obissier family-owned race horses at the time, by the names of Fleur and Cardinale. After the death of his race horses, Mr Obissier changed the name of the estate to Château Fleur Cardinale.
Since Ludovic took over from his father in 2015, the estate has become one of the most interesting producers to watch. From a wine investor’s point of view, the current Château Fleur Cardinale is for the patient. It is a wine that ages extremely well and is remarkably underpriced for a wine of this calibre.
2018 Château Fombrauge
Bordeaux, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Château Fombrauge is of course the oldest Château on the right bank and homes some of the best winemaking terroir there is in France. Despite Fombrauge being a Grand Crus Classé, it got a little left behind in the 20th century. Since its take over in 1999 by Bernard Magrez (aided by Michel Rolland), the estate has risen, phoenix-like from its ashes and is today one of the top players in Bordeaux. Magrez has planted the enormous (the second largest on the right bank) 60-hectare vineyard to Château Fombrauge is planted to 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc. The terroir is magnificent: the clay, limestone and sandstone soils are divided up into three sections and have one of the highest elevations (75 metres) of the region. Harvesting is done by hand and vinification is done plot by plot, according to terroir, grape variety and age of vines. Unsurprisingly this gives the wine a sexy, modern vibe and something that lovers of old-school heavy St. Emilion’s might take time to appreciate. But the scores tell the tale: the past four vintages have scored 95+ with James Suckling.
2017 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia
Tuscany, Bolgheri Sassicaia
Only one word could describe Tenuta San Guido: legendary. It is located in the Tuscan region of Maremma, and is has its own single-estate DOC appellation (Bolgheri Sassicaia) applied to its flagship label. Sassicaia, one of the original Super Tuscan wines, is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon with a small amount of Cabernet Franc. It is known for its supple texture, elegance and perfume. The grapes that go into Sassicaia are picked just before they reach full ripeness, which contributes to finesse and fragrance as well as lower alcohol levels. After two weeks of fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine is aged for around 24 months in French oak barrels (around 20 per cent of which are new).