Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Meritage blending – Franciscan Magnificat $50

Napa Valley

I just came out of a local wine shop after attending a great seminar on Meritage and Bordeaux wine blending. This was excellent to understand “Meritage”, it’s history, guidelines for varietals and how closely related it is to a Bordeaux blend. It brought me a greater appreciation to the wine makers, working to create that perfect blend for all of us to enjoy.  Wine blending is such an important aspect in wine making.

The name Meritage is taken from two words, Merit and Heritage. It was initially a contest to come up with a name when American wine makers wanted to designate their wines made in the tradition of a Bordeaux blend. Today, it’s an alliance and the wines brought forth from wineries must be considered their best wines with no single grape variety making up more than 90% of the blend and production of not more than 25,000 cases.  Grape varietals can be a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.  Carmenère is also allowed however these 5 mentioned are the predominant ones used.

In our seminar, taught by Luis Torres, Director of Wine Education for the Constellation Academy of wine, we worked on blending to match to the 2011 Franciscan Magnificat.  We had available to us the 5 single varietals to mix and match given our own preferences. All be it virtually impossible to re-create Magnificat, many of us tried to match this nicely blended composition of 79% Cab. Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec. Aged on oak for 20 months the aromas exhibited dark plums with hints of licorice and flint. The flavor profile exuded ripe blackberries with a subtle black pepper spice.  Medium to full body with firm tannins. Definitely a wine to drink today yet very good for aging.    

Overall, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the seminar, however I was pleasantly surprised. Luis is great at demystifying wine, the process of blending and most of all a really nice composure to make anyone feel comfortable in understanding wine.    

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