Red Blends From Around The World

‘e’ wine of the week

By Bruce Cochran

Hello Everyone,

In some parts of the world, wines are made exclusively from a single grape variety. In others, they think that blending two or more together is better. Today we’ll look at famous blends around the world and how they’ve affected California wines.

If you’re in Little Rock later this month, I’ll be hosting a prime rib dinner at Salut! Bistro in the Heights neighborhood on Feb. 24. Welcome Wine begins at 6:30 p.m., with seating at 7 p.m. Menu and wine list are posted at, where you can also purchase tickets. Of the five wines poured that evening, three will be new to Arkansas.

I’m going back to Italy in late September, and can take a few people with me. Details and calendar on the Web site,

Try a new wine this week!


Number One Red From Lot 205

Most of the world’s great wine grapes — cabernet, chardonnay, merlot, etc. — came from France. If you look at a map of France, you see that the major wine regions in the north mostly use one grape for each wine.

Champagne is an exception, but much of the Loire Valley, Alsace and even Burgundy mostly use one grape variety at a time.

When you look across the south, it changes. From west to east, Bordeaux blends cabernet sauvignon (some places it’s more cabernet franc, an earlier-ripening cousin), with merlot, and sometimes small amounts of a couple of other varieties.

In the southeast, along the Rhone River and neighboring regions, syrah is blended with grenache, cinsault, mourvedre and others.

For the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a dozen or more varieties can be included. North of there, white wine from the viognier grape is added to syrah.

That blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre caught on in Australia, where it’s often known by its abbreviation “G-S-M.” The Aussies also popularized their own blend of cabernet with syrah (they call it “shiraz”).

Much of Italy is “one-grape” country, with notable exceptions in Veneto and Tuscany. The Veneto region’s famous Amarone is blended (corvina is the main grape), and in Tuscany there are many blends, from Chianti to “Super Tuscans,” which usually combine cabernet with sangiovese.

The Bordeaux blend became known as “Meritage” in Napa Valley several years ago, but that word is not used so much now. Variations of the “G-S-M” blend have become popular, too, especially in warmer areas like around Paso Robles. Those varieties tend to like warmer places.

“Number One Red” from Lot 205 in Napa Valley, selects grapes from vineyards throughout California’s best wine regions for this blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petite sirah. It retails for about $11 or $12.

Bruce Cochran has traveled to every major wine region on four continents. A 30-year veteran of the wine trade, he taught continuing education wine classes for 26 years at colleges throughout Arkansas.

Categories: Legacy Archive