It's not about selecting the best fruit. It's not about fermenting technique.  It's not about choosing the right barrels. 

It is all about blending.

While those other attributes are certainly important for a winemaker, it's the art and skill of blending (or assemblage) that creates champion wines of distinction.  

Even when the wine label states only a single grape variety was used, you can bet there was a significant amount of consideration given to getting the right balance in the final product.  The initial lot of grapes received may have been divided and wine created under different influences and conditions.  In effect, this would leave the winemaker with many potential choices when faced with the task of presenting the finished wine.

It's common for wine enthusiasts to gravitate toward single varietal wines, especially in North America and other new world markets where almost the entire business of making wine has been based on the premise that single variety bottlings are better. Around 50 years ago, a few iconic industry leaders began dropping foreign-sounding handles (ie Chablis) for something closer to the truth.  The name of the grape began appearing on the front of the label as means of identification, not just information. The perception of wine drinkers changed along with this innovation.  Instead of loyalty to a certain area or house, wine drinkers now began showing allegiance to grape varieties. 

At the same time, wines blended from several varieties fell into disrepute, at least those from North American producers.  The concept of jug wine or kitchen sink-style wines gave blended wines a definite "down market" feel.  In other parts of the world, however, the very best wines continued their traditions of blending to produce the finest wines to be had.

Until recently, the idea that you would buy your wines based on the grape variety rather than the producer was a novel and somewhat bizarre suggestion to most Europeans.  There, loyalty is to a region or a house.  Consideration for the grapes actually used in the finished wine was the concern of the producers and a few zealous fans.

In the wine shops of BC, you can still see a little confusion on occasion when blended wines are presented as the best a particular winery has to offer.  The expectation in many cases is that a winery will excel at making one or two varietal wines.  In some cases that is true.  In others, they've rediscovered that a wine can be greater than the sum of its parts. 

 

~ Bradley James Cooper

Winemaker Township 7, Winemaker/Proprietor Black Cloud

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