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Mixed varieties may confuse us when we have to choose from one bottle to another: blends tent to be more complex, with more texture and flavors. Here are some ideas to get the best of a blend on your next trip to the wine shop.
To understand what blend wines are and how to enjoy them in different occasions, we need to first decipher their characteristics.
We tend to think that a varietal wine is only one that has no barrel time or is lower than a Reserve category. This is correct, but in addition, varietal are also those wines that are made only from the same strain: standard Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon or Carmenere for example. All those wines that have mixtures, whether of different varieties or are even made of the variety but from different origins are called assemblages, blends, coupage, among other names.
The mixture of varieties is used to increase the final expression of wines: it allows enhancing aromas, textures, body, color and a very pleasant feeling of complexity and delicacy. These mixes are interesting because of the unique characteristics that define each wine: the possibilities are endless when trying out blends.
Winemakers have complete freedom when making a blended wine: they usually keep some barrels of certain varieties and certain origins, and then they are mixed in different proportions to reach the final product. It is like achieving the perfect formula between balance, textures, aromas and complexity.
That is why in the labels we can distinguish mainly two types of blends: wines made from different varieties (with different percentages of each type of grape), as well as blends made from the same strain, but from different valleys or origins.
While the blends tend to be red, and white wines tend to be bottled from a single variety, there are delicate and wonderful exceptions of white assemblages, from different strains as well as from different origins. Pinot Noir, for example, is one of the varieties that are difficult to find in blends because of their distinctive characteristics and delicacy that tend to lose quality when it is mixed with other types of grapes.
There are oenologists who mix directly in stainless steel and prefer not to store their blends in barrels. There are others that keep the assemblages for months and even years in barrels, while there are also those that only store them a couple of months before bottling.
Some let the wines ferment together from beginning to end, and most of the oenologists prefer to have each variety fermented and saved as long as they feel is appropriate to create the final mixture.
Again, the goal is to develop the best of each variety and each winemaker and vineyard determines the ideal technique for their blends, for them to be recognized by their high quality and complexity.
Concha y Toro’s Trio wines, by Ignacio Recabarren, recently recognized by renowned Decanter magazine as one of the best winemakers in the world, has developed four premium assemblies full of energy, complexity and that help to bring harmony to almost any preparation.
Trio Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanc, from Casablanca Valley, is a delicate white blend that stands out for its persistent acidity and versatility to accompany dishes. It goes perfect with cebiches, Thai food or Asian influenced preparations in general.
Trio Sauvignon Blanc is an assemblage of the same variety but from different origins, to provide greater sophistication. In this case, grapes come from Casablanca and Rapel Valleys and it is a perfect pair for seafood or fish stews, salads and fresh cheeses, among others.
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