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The Art of Blending

Wine Salute!There is no denying the explosion of wine culture in the United States.  Wine is now the largest consumed alcoholic beverage in the country and it continues to be on the move.  From the increased number of wineries and wine bars to the importance restaurant’s place on their wine lists; the culture is evolving and enthusiasts are out there.  Blendtique is an innovative new concept that will help bring the consumer closer to the industry they love in a fun, new, and exciting way. 

To elaborate, one must first understand several evolving aspects of the wine industry.  First, and perhaps most important is the acknowledgement of an ever-increasing fascination with wine and wine culture.  The U.S recently surpassed Spain making it the 3rd largest producer of wine in the world (behind France & Italy), and consumer demand has never been higher.  In fact some analysts project a national wine shortage in the year 2015. 

Second, amateur winemakers and fellow enthusiasts are eager to participate and learn more about the process, but there has never really been a simple means for them to participate; especially in a hands-on, decision-making facility, and third, there has long been a budding significance placed upon the “art of blending” as it pertains to skilled winemaking.  This departure from traditional, single-varietal wines (especially in the United States) has been apparent over the past several decades as aficionados have whole-heartedly embraced the endless ‘tapestry of flavors’ accessible in an ever-expanding repertoire of blends.  From the famed blends of Bordeaux & Chateaneuf du pape, to the revered Super Tuscan and massive Aussie GSM’s; the “art of blending” has become synonymous with creativity and skill, and it is here where the Wine Apothecary will offer a fun and exciting way for enthusiasts to better engage the industry they love.  

For the first time, decisions leading to the final composition of a wine: its specifications, flavors, blend percentages and label design, will lie entirely in the hands of the consumer, not simply the privileged few.  Wine Apothecary provides a creative, user-friendly environment whereby the enthusiast can explore the wine-building process and develop a product they can proudly call their very own.  


Arguably the Most Famous Wines in the World are Blends

    • Chateau Margaux – Cabernet Dominant Left Bank of the Gironde Estuary (CS, CF, M, PV, M) (Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild, Latour, Haut-Brion, etc.)
    • Chateau Petrus – Merlot Dominant Right Bank (M & CF) (Pomerol & St-Emilion) Cheval Blanc, Château Angélus, Château de La Dauphine, etc.
    • Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia – Super Tuscan (CS, CF, M, S) Chianti Blends
    • Vega Sicilia Unico – Spain (T, CS, M) – Rioja Wines (T, G)
    • Penfolds Grange – Australia – (S&CS) (GSM’s Two Hands, Hardys, etc).
    • Chateau Rayas – Chateauneuf-Du-Pape 13 Different Grape Varieties (G, S, M) (Beaucastel, Hen. Bonneau, Pegau, etc)  

Current Varieties

Syrah

Variety:  Syrah or Shiraz is a dark-skinned grape grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce powerful red wines. Syrah is used as both a single-varietal and in many diverse blends.  Following several years of strong planting, Syrah was estimated in 2004 to be the world's 7th most grown grape at 352,000 acres continuing its strong presence throughout California. 

Origins:
  Syrah has a long documented history in the Rhône region of Southeastern France, but it was not known if the grape originated in the region. In 1998, a study conducted by the Department of Viticulture and Enology at University of California, Davis used DNA typing and extensive grape reference material from the viticultural research station in Montpellier, France to conclude that Syrah was the offspring of two obscure Southeastern French varietals Dureza (father) and Mondeuse Blanche (mother). The wines that made Syrah famous were those from Hermitage in northern Rhône where there is a hermitage (chapel) where de Stérimberg is supposed to have settled as a hermit after his crusades. Hermitage wines have for centuries had a reputation for being powerful and excellent.  Syrah continues to be the main grape of the Northern Rhône and is associated with classic wines such as Hermitage, Cornas and Côte-Rôtie. In the Southern Rhône it is used as a blending grape in such wines as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Côtes du Rhône.

Character:  Rich Tannins, Good Acidity, Blackberry, Pepper, Dark Chocolate
Cool Climate:  Mint, Eucalyptus, Smoked Meats, Black Pepper, Dark Berries, Violets
Warm Climate:  Liquorices, Cloves, Berries - With Age:  Leather, Wet Leaves, Earth

Grenache

Variety:  Grenache (pronounced gren-ash) (in Spanish, Garnacha) is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world.  It ripens late, so it needs hot, dry conditions such as those found in Spain, the south of France, and California's Central Coast.  It is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate with relatively high-alcohol.  It needs careful control of yields for the best results.  Grenache is often used as a blending component, adding body and sweet fruitiness to a wine.  It is often blended with varieties such as Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Tempranillo.

Origins:  Ampelographical evidence suggests that Grenache is most likely of Spanish origins, with the northern region of Aragon being its likely home.  Grenache is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhône wines, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape where it is typically over 80% of the blend. In Australia it is typically blended in "GSM" blends with Syrah and Mourvèdre. Grenache is also used to make Rosé wines in France and Spain, notably those of the Tavel district in the Côtes du Rhône.

Character:  Berry fruit such as raspberries and strawberries, mild tannins.  When yields are kept in check, Grenache based wines can develop complex and intense notes of black currants, black cherries, cranberry, pomegranate, black olives, coffee, gingerbread, honey, leather, black pepper, tar, spices and roasted nuts.  Sometimes, more overtly earthy and herbal notes emerge.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world's most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. It is grown in nearly every major wine producing country among a diverse spectrum of climates. Cabernet Sauvignon became internationally recognized through its prominence in Bordeaux wines where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. From France, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World. For most of the 20th century, it was the world's most widely planted premium red wine grape until it was surpassed by Merlot in the 1990s. 

Origins:  Despite its prominence in the industry, the grape is a relatively new variety, the product of a chance crossing between Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc during the 17th century in southwestern France. Its popularity is often attributed to its ease of cultivation - the grapes have thick skins and the vines are hardy and resistant to rot and frost - and to its consistent presentation of structure and flavors which express the "typicity" of the variety. Familiarity and ease of pronunciation have helped to sell Cabernet Sauvignon wines to consumers, even when from unfamiliar wine regions. Its widespread popularity has also contributed to criticism of the grape as a "colonizer" that takes over wine regions at the expense of native grape varieties.

Characteristics:  Dense, Dark, and Tannic. Flavors Range with Climate - Cool Climate: emphasizing Vegetal, Bell Pepper, and Berry Flavors - Medium Climate:  Blueberry, Black Pepper, Mint, Eucalyptus, and Pencil Lead - Hot Climate:  Berry and Jam characteristics.

Merlot

Variety:  Merlot is a dark blue-colored wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to be a diminutive of merle, the French name for the blackbird, probably a reference to the color of the grape. Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wine, and it is the most widely planted grape in the Bordeaux wine regions. Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals in many markets.  This flexibility has helped to make it one of the world's most planted grape varieties. As of 2004, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 640,000 acres globally, with an increasing trend.  This puts Merlot just behind Cabernet Sauvignon's 650,000 acres.

Origins: Researchers at UC Davis believe that Merlot is an offspring of Cabernet Franc and is a sibling of Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon. The earliest recorded mention of Merlot was in the notes of a local Bordeaux official who in 1784 labeled wine made from the grape in the Libournais region as one of the area's best. By the 19th century it was being regularly planted in the Médoc on the "Left Bank" of the Gironde.  After a series of setbacks that includes a severe frost in 1956 and several vintages in the 1960s lost to rot, French authorities in Bordeaux banned new plantings of Merlot vines between 1970 and 1975. In the 1990s, Merlot saw an upswing of popularity in the United States. The popularity of Merlot stemmed in part from the relative ease in pronouncing the name of the wine as well as its softer, fruity profile that made it more approachable to some wine drinkers.

Character: Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of blueberry, blackberry, plum, and currant. Its softness and "fleshiness", combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin

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