Balancing Act: Red Blends With Personality

The whole can be greater than the sum of its parts

At the blending bench

At the Bonny Doon Vineyard blending bench, February 2011

In an ideal terroir, mono-varietals can sing. Think Pinot Noir in Burgundy, Nebbiolo in Piedmont, Nerello Mascalese on the slopes of Mount Etna. The grape is matched to place, a tuning fork for terroir.

But in many other great wine regions—Bordeaux, the Rhône, much of Spain and Italy—weather and place conspire against varietals. To produce a wine of harmony, blending is the norm (and, often, the law).

In California, too, where varietal Cabernet is king, there are plenty of red blends with personality and verve. Randall Grahm, winemaker of Bonny Doon Vineyard and inveterate blender, calls the art of assemblage “a balancing act.”

Read what else he has to say in my latest Taking Flight column for The Tasting Panel Magazine: view the PDF or read the digital edition online.

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  1. says: David B

    Thank you as usual for the article. I am interested to know that Shake Ridge has the full GSM range (the Mourvèdre was known to me through the D&R wines). Steve Edmunds is now sourcing from Shake Ridge, so perhaps there is hope for a new version of Rocks & Gravel.

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