Plantagenet Omrah Cabernet Merlot 2008, or, Wine Blending 101

Something I didn’t really realise, until I started doing some wine courses and really getting into the stuff, was how much liberty the winemaker has to shove grapes in from all over the place. All sorts of tinkering can go on behind the scenes which doesn’t have to get mentioned on the label.

Take this wine as an example. It’s got grapes in the bottle from seven different vineyards: 75% from the Great Southern and the rest from the Blackwood region of Western Australia. Not only that, but it’s got a dash of Cabernet Franc and Shiraz in it too. (This is not a dirty little secret I uncovered through some stealthy espionage, I’m afraid; all the information is on their web site!)

If that’s the kind of thing that scares you, then I urge you to reconsider. Envision not a witch, maliciously adding rats tails and bats wings to an infernal concoction. Think not of certain American fast food giants injecting burgers with addictive chemicals, or sweet makers and their hyper activity inducing e-numbers.

Oh no… Imagine instead some avuncular alchemist, carefully composing some magnificent elixir. Or a painter, blending watercolours in search of the perfect hue for their next masterpiece.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: That’s all very well, but it’s still not as special as the simple purity of having a single grape from a single vineyard. And you’d be right. (Which is why most winemakers don’t advertise the blending bit on the label.)

But that doesn’t mean blending is bad.

I like to think of it as like picking a meal at a restaurant. The good single-vinyard, single-grape wines would be the dishes like steak or barramundi. You know, an expensive fillet of something. Whereas the ones that use a lot of blending to obtain consistency are more like the pasta dishes. (Think of a chef, sedulously experimenting to find the right balance of flavours in his next tomato sauce.)

So what sauce would this particular wine be?

Well, I had this wine with my spaghetti Bolognese the other night (and used it in the sauce, no less) and it went just perfectly. And that’s exactly the kind of wine this is. It’ll never be as swanky as wagyu beef fillet steak (which is fair enough) but it could just end up being that humble family favourite you like to fall back on every now and again.

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