Hello Everyone,
This week we’ll look at a red wine blend that’s made in many countries around the world, a name so common that we’ve all heard it yet so old that some of us might not remember just exactly what grapes are in it.
Try a new wine this week!

Bruce (

Before there was Meritage, there was Claret.  Both names refer to red wines blended from what are called “Bordeaux varietals”, of which cabernet sauvignon and merlot are the most important.  Bordeaux is the southwestern French city and surrounding wine region where these grapes came from.  It’s best known for names like Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and Chateau Margaux.

The British have long loved Bordeaux.  They once owned this part of France, and they are still very much involved in distributing the region’s wines around the world.  Claret is a traditional name that they use for red wines from Bordeaux.  Today that name is used by many people for other cab/merlot blends, wherever the grapes are grown.

For many wine lovers, it’s a very appealing blend.  Merlot softens the cabernet, while cabernet adds structure and power to merlot.  Three other grapes are allowed in Bordeaux.  Cabernet franc is an earlier ripening cousin of cabernet sauvignon, and adds complexity to the blend.   Malbec, now better known as an Argentinean grape, and petit verdot are sometimes added in small amounts for color and aroma.  It’s a little like adding herbs to the stew pot.

Most claret today is cabernet-based, with merlot playing a minor role.   You can find them throughout the world, from Australia to California to southern Oregon to Washington State.  Del Rio, from southern Oregon’s Rogue River Valley has a good one for around $20 per bottle, and from Washington State I like Ron Bunnell’s “RiverAerie Fete” (Fete is a French word for “festive”).  It’s from Columbia Valley, and retails in the $20-$25 price range.  Both have great cabernet flavors combined with merlot’s smooth finish.

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.

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