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The art of winemaking lies in the blending of individual lots once they have become wine. Varietals often come up short in the expectations of the wine maker, or he simply wants something extra to eventually leap out of the bottle. Even if all the barrels are of the same grape, the wine maker still must blend to the desired result because not all barrels will develop the same. Vinho Verde of Portugal is not a grape, but a wine region from which various indigenous grapes make the blend. Australian producers like to marry Viognier with Marsanne to tame the fruity nature of the former. In Champagne, wines from Chardonnay grapes are frequently blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, another red. Bordeaux blends up to five grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot to achieve the house style of the Chateau. In California, anything goes, so long as it tastes good, and, thank the wine god, it usually does.
ALIANÇA VINHO VERDE, PORTUGAL
List price 9.95; our price 7.99
The Vinho Verde region, in the northwest area of Portugal, blends Azal Branco, Loureido and Pedema grapes to make this delightfully light and refreshing wine. It is a fresh, medium-dry wine, low in alcohol, fruity and well-balanced. It is clean and crisp, with its fresh scent of lemons and lively spritz. Ideal on its own, it partners well with salads, seafood, chicken and pasta.
2008 D’ARENBERG VIOGNIER MARSANNE “THE HERMIT CRAB”, AUSTRALIA
List price 16.95; our price 13.99
Out of the glass leap expressive aromatics of lime and lemon, peaches, pears and apricot stone with spicy, floral notes in the background. The wine shows excellent balance on the palate; the luscious stone fruit and ginger spices are harmonized by savory nutty characters from the Marsanne. There is a wonderful combination of freshness, complexity and balance between fruit flavor, acid and alcohol.
2001 GLORIA FERRER BRUT SPARKLING WINE, “ROYAL CUVÉE”, CARNEROS
List price 24.00; our price 19.99
Two prestigious wine magazines have given this wine a 93 point rating. With this kind of praise I might as well keep my mouth shut. Wine Spectator: “This sparkling wine is fresh and vibrant, yet offers a core of rich, luscious fruit. Aromas of Asian pear, rose water and lemon curd lead to layered flavors of fresh ginger, pippin apple and cinnamon that finish on a showy note. Drink now through 2013.” Wine Enthusiast and listed in the Top 100 Wine of the Year: “Royal Cuvée is usually Gloria Ferrer’s best bubbly, and so it is with this bottling, a worthy follow-up to the past several vintages. Very finely structured, it shows appealing flavors of cherries, citrus fruits and vanilla, and is so rich, it’s almost like a table wine. Watch it change as it warms in the glass.” This is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
2005 CHATEAU POTELLE COUGAR PASS, PASO ROBLES
List price 18.95; our price 14.99
This is a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet and a lot of winemaker’s creativity! It begins with a beautiful floral nose that develops towards red berry, cherry and spicy notes. It is very easy to drink yet complex and interesting. The wine is totally un-fined and unfiltered which means that it has conserved all the qualities that the nature and the winemaking gave it. It is concentrated and rich with finely textured, soft and supple tannins.
2003 DE LORIMIER MOSAIC MERITAGE, ALEXANDER VALLEY, SONOMA
List price 29.95; our price 19.99
This Bordeaux blend of Cab (66%), Merlot (16%), Malbec (14%) and Cab Franc (4%) is redolent of ripe blue/black berry, cassis, cream, vanilla flavors and a light tangy spice. Tannins are there but not dominant so this is more of a drink now vintage than one to hold onto.
2003 SOURCE NAPA RED, “HERITAGE SITES”
List price 38.00; our price 29.50
The Merlot (74%), Cab (24%) and Cab Franc (2%) in this blend are drawn from four historic and geographically diverse vineyards owned by the Gamble Family. Heritage Sites expresses a range of fruit, structure, ripeness, texture, acidity and terroir which make up a wine that is rich, warm and approachable.