In today’s blog I want to discuss the question: How many grape varieties is too many? But first I want to ask: How many grape varieties, in a blended wine, is too many?
Some of the best wines in the world, such as Bordeaux blends and Rhone-style blends from France, are blended wines. Other wonderful blended wines are Meritage wines. Meritage is a blend of the two words merit and heritage. Meritage wines are wines made similarly to Bordeaux wines, but not made in Bordeaux. In the U.S. many vintners, including me, use the term “Bordeaux-style red wine.” My Tiedemann Signature Series is a “Bordeaux-style” blend of four different grapes.
Of course, like many things, there is always an exception. One such exception are wines from the Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC in France. Some vintners here use six or more varieties when blending a Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine, and these wines are excellent.
I am of the opinion that too many varieties of grapes in a blend tend to blur the terroir. I also think too many grapes in a blend will limit the flavors and aromas of the different grapes used in the blend. The reason we blend wines is to gain complexity in the wine – many flavors and aromas do stimulate your mouth with a strong start of flavor and a good finish. Blending also contributes to the balance of the wine.
It has been my experience when blending my own wines that if we have too many varieties of grapes it tends to make the wine taste dull or perhaps even flat at times. I generally try and stay with four different varieties of grapes in our blends and typically one of the varieties is the dominant grape.
You might want to do a little experiment when you buy wines the next time. Purchase similar blended wines – one with a lot of varieties and one with less and compare the tastes of the two wines.
The next question: can you have too many varieties in your wine cellar? My answer to this questions is no. You should have as many wines in your cellar as you enjoy drinking. A wine cellar should mirror your own tastes.
My personal preferences include wines from the following wine regions:
- California – Napa Valley area
- Germany – Good dry Riesling
- France – Grand Crus, Burgundy, Rhone
- Spain – Tempranillo, Garnacha (Grenache)
- Italy – Sangiovese-based wine, Nebbiolo
There are many wines from each of these countries. Italy produces Barolo, Amarone, Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino, to name a few. Depending on the size of your wine cellar, budget and personal palate, this may have an impact on the number of varieties you select to have in your wine cellar. You also need to pay attention to how wines will age. I wouldn’t fill my cellar with too many of the wines that are made to drink right away (wines that only age a year or two). If you find one you like in that category best, I would only purchase a case or two at most. You can always stop at your local wine shop and buy more when you finish off what you have already purchased.
I would suggest you have some of the following wines (unless you don’t enjoy them):
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Riesling (Germany)
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
- Tempranillo (Spain)
- Sangiovese (Italian)
- Burgundy (France)
- Bordeaux (France)
You can certainly expand your wines as your palate grows and favors different varieties of wine.
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