red blend ideas

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winemaker81

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I've been following @NorCal's Replicating a 100 point wine thread, as it's both interesting and it may help me answer the question, "What do I use in a blend?" Having made mostly varietals, I'm now leaning heavily towards red blends.

Last night I read a description of the varietals in a wine I really like, and then this morning I read @Snafflebit's reply regarding the testing he's doing of wines produced in an area similar to his own growing conditions -- this sparked an idea.

In this thread we can list blends that works for us, blends that don't, and commercial blends that we like. If we get enough traction, this might be worth stickying.


EDIT: I'm updating this post to include blends as folks post them.

McGregor Rob Roy Blend: 8 parts Cabernet Franc, 5 parts Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 parts Merlot

Kraffty: 50% Zin, 20% Merlot, 20% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker81: 67% Merlot, 33% equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, & Malbec.

Winemaker81: 40% Merlot, 40% Zinfandel, 20% equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, & Malbec.

Chuck E: 50/50 Carmenere and Malbec

Chuck E: 75% Zinfandel/25% Petit Syrah

DistanceRunner: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc

ibglowin: San Acacia Cellars - Caballo Muerto: 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 8% Cab Cabernet 2% Malbec, 2% Petite Verdot
 
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winemaker81

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I like McGregor Winery of the Finger Lakes, NY, especially their blends. Some I cannot reproduce, as they grow eastern European grapes that I cannot get. However, their Rob Roy Red is reproducible. The 2018 is 50% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Merlot.

To reproduce that's 8 lugs Cab Franc, 5 lugs Cab Sauv, and 3 lugs Merlot.
 

winemaker81

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I'm very happy with my 2020 blends:

1) 67% Merlot, 33% Vinifera Blend.

2) 40% Merlot, 40% Zinfandel, 20% Vinifera Blend.

Vinifera Blend is equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, & Malbec.
 

NorCal

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I don’t think there is a bad blend that can be made with the Bordeaux grapes, CS, CF, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Perhaps you could overdo the PV, but that’s the only grape I see needing to limit in a blend. My favorite set of grapes.
 

Snafflebit

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Last night I read a description of the varietals in a wine I really like, and then this morning I read @Snafflebit's reply regarding the testing he's doing of wines produced in an area similar to his own growing conditions
Thanks for starting a thread. I will update with my opinion on the Cab Franc/Petit Verdot debate.
 

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We were talking about this. Has anyone tried blending wine kits with any success or is it just better to buy premade blends
 

winemaker81

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We were talking about this. Has anyone tried blending wine kits with any success or is it just better to buy premade blends
There's no reason you can't blend kits. While I intended this thread for fresh red grapes, I'm perfectly fine with kit-based blends. At the end of the day, it's all wine.

The premade blends are someone's idea of what works, and for the better brands, I'm sure it's well tested. But there's no reason to not experiment with your own blends.

For the foreseeable future, I'm not making red varietals. There are far too many interesting red blend possibilities!
 

NorCal

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On the commercial front, they only need 75% of the varietal to call it that and don't have to list the 25% blending information on the bottle. I think it is safe to say that most all reds are blends of some sort. The wineries do have the option to note the wine as being single varietal, if it is 100%.
 

winemaker81

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@Snafflebit, I suspect that most -- if not all -- blends of good tasting wines will turn out good. Some will be better than others, but all are good. If it's working for you, don't change a thing!

The rule of thumb for topping up is to use a compatible wine -- probably a quarter of my wines in the last 10 years have been a blend, even if it's only a quarter bottle in 5 US gallons. Last year I needed wine to topup a barrel and used whatever was available. Yeah, I had 3 varietals, but when I was done racking I combined whatever was left over and that became topup wine.

I used to be rabid about purity ... now I've done a 180 turn and am far more interested in what blends I can make.
:r
 

Jovimaple

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When using grapes, are you fermenting them separately and blending the wines or fermenting all the varietals together?
 

winemaker81

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I was in a Meijer grocery store the other day and could not find a single Merlot and only a few Cabs. The signage was still there but the bottles were replaced by all red blends. Is it a trend?
It wasn't too long ago that in the USA, blends did not sell well. I was told by the wine manager in a store that most people recognized varietals and "foreign" names such as Bordeaux, but didn't seem to trust American blends. Oddly named blends were associated with cheap wines. I suspect improved education regarding wines has changed this, and the Meritage Association has been working to change the perception since the late 80's.

Contrast this with countries like France and Italy where blends are the norm and varietals are a relatively recent development. [It may be that I'm seeing more French and Italian varietals as more are being imported, so varietals may not be as uncommon as my experience leads me to believe.]

When using grapes, are you fermenting them separately and blending the wines or fermenting all the varietals together?
This is a mix. The commercial wineries I'm familiar with ferment separately, then blend during or after bulk aging. It appears a lot of folks on WMT do the same. Blending later in the process provides a better feel for what each separate wine will be, so the final blend is better controlled.

I don't have the capacity to do this like I'd want, so I field blend. Last fall I fermented in 4 batches of 4 lugs each (2 Merlot, Zinfandel, Vinifera Blend) as that is most manageable for me, then blended going into the barrels. I didn't do taste testing -- I rolled the dice and blindly blended.

This may sound bad, but as I said upstream, if we have good tasting wines, all blends will be good. Some better than others, but there will be no losers.
 

Snafflebit

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When the blend proportions are less than 75% a varietal name cannot be used on the front label. The wine receives the generic “red wine” name, and that is marketing death in a retail environment.

I can count on one hand the number of people I know who know the meaning of Meritage.
 
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winemaker81

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I can count on one hand the number of people I know who know the meaning of Meritage.
Five years ago I would have agreed with you. Today's? It's not necessarily so. It depends on geographic area and demographic.

In the USA, the jug wine/plonk folks are sticking with known names (varietals, stolen regional names such as Burgundy, etc.), as their customer base expects it. The higher end wineries ($50+ USD/bottle) continue to do whatever they want, because they can.

Other wineries? Apothic, Menage A Trois, and Bogle all offer several red blends that sell well.

My sons are in their mid-20's -- their friends who drink reds are open to trying new things. The above mentioned wines are inexpensive and generally good (especially to new wine drinkers), so they have them in stock.
 
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