Something to wine about

We recently spent the day in the vineyards in Wellington agonizing over which varietals to use for the 2011 Eau Sauvage. The previous vintage was a daring little experiment with equal amounts of Mourvedre, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. And this was a huge success with all who tasted it, even the most anorakish wine tasters we presented it to. The wine of the moth group who tasted it gave it a 4+ out of 5. BUT you could not get away from the fact that the mixed marriage was an issue. Bordeaux and Rhone just don’t mix. It is a varietal Romeo & Juliet tragedy, because the offspring of the two great regions is so delectable.

Bearing all this in mind we met with winemaker Andy Barns of Mischa Estate and had an adult conversation about the art of mixing it up. ‘Blending’ in wine speak. It seemed that the best way forward was to fall in love with a flavour profile and then to maximize the direction of this varietal by blending a second suitable, region-compatible varietal and so on. A lot like arranged marriages or Royal Weddings until not so long ago.

We first fell in love with a very cheeky Merlot. It was deep red, and matured in French Oak, although the cousin in the American Oak was also an alluring beauty. But something was missing. The flavour profile was impressively fruity with strong tones of cherry, plum, berries and hint of tobacco but also a little linear. Clearly a blend was needed.

Having always been a fan of Petit Verdot, we decided on a 50/50 blend with the French Oak Merlot. It was a perfect match for 2 reasons. First, the color was almost Pinot Noir-like, and not the glass-coating-purple the Petit Verdot is known for. Second, on the palate it is quaffably light bodied, with mild tannins and hints of baked red apples, ripe black currant, plum, saffron and rosemary.  This is going to be a very tasty table wine to go with lamb curries, most beef and tagines, breyanis and strongly-flavoured chicken dishes. A beautiful medium to full bodied wine with a long, velvety finish. Simple and elegant.