Red blends are all the vogue, but they are not a new thing. In fact, many of the traditional wines of Europe are blends of various grapes. For example, we have in this collection reds from Chianti and the Douro Valley of Portugal that have always been blends, usually with a principal grape, such as sangiovese in Chianti. More recently, the Super Tuscans, while rebelling against traditional Chianti blends, are themselves blends using mainly French varieties.
In the New World, Australia has long been a producer of top blends using cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, somewhat common now, but daring at the time.
For those you who prefer whites or feel in the mood for bubbly, we’ve got your glass covered as well.
Wines for review were provided by their producers or importers at no cost to the writer.
La Fiera Venezie Pinot Grigio 2017 ($8). More of a savory than a fruity pinot grigio, with lots of wood-like notes.
Josep Masachs “Ulls de Mel” Penedès Xarel-lo 2017 ($18). Xarel-lo is the lead grape in the production of Spain’s cava bubbly. As a table wine, it has a nice floral nose with tangy, gamey flavors — especially noted for those who enjoy herbal flavors.
Robert Mondavi Carneros Chardonnay Reserve 2016 ($46). A classic Napa Valley chard — big but well-structured, with delicious apple-y fruit and a lingering barrel toast.
Ramey “Ritchie Vineyard” Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2015 ($63). Tightly knit with light tannins and good, juicy intensity, rich fruits, toast, and light spice.
Ramey “Rochioli Vineyard” Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2015 ($63). Rich fruitiness with apple and citrus flavors, a bit juicy, a mild toastiness, and just plain delicious.
ZD Carneros Chardonnay Reserve 2016 ($77). Very enjoyable — a more vegetal chard with the flavors of butter and corn oil in the finish.
Gran Passione Prosecco Extra Dry NV ($13). A nice blend of fragrant fruit and dry herbal flavors with good bubble intensity.
Charles Heidsieck “Blanc des Millénaires” Blanc de Blance Champagne 2004 ($198). Rich and satisfying flavors of apple and toast with good minerality and intense bubbles. Delicious.
La Fiera Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2017 ($9). A good carafe-style red wine, with tart fruit and savory flavors.
Paul Mas “Saint Hilaire” Pays d’Oc Pinot Noir 2016 ($13). Don’t expect typical pinot noir flavors, but it’s a very good $13 red wine, light-bodied and with good fruitiness.
Henry’s Drive Padthaway Shiraz 2013 ($14). A nice blend of dark fruit and barrel notes, with some tangy tannins on the finish.
Herdade de São Miguel Alentejano Vinho Tinto 2016 ($15). Enjoyable and complex — full-bodied and fruit-forward creamy raspberry flavor with a savory, lightly tannic finish.
Intrinsic Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($21). Lots of red fruit, good flavors, nice finish, but may be a little hot for those who don’t like to feel the burn.
Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico 2016 ($22). A one-note wine, but an enjoyable note, with lean, raspy dark fruit.
Vallado Douro Vinho Tinto 2015 ($23). Lots of red berry flavors, lean, with a tart herbal finish.
Stark-Condé Stellenbosch Syrah 2015 ($26). Nice raspberry notes, but the finish is tart and bitter.
Henry’s Drive “H” Padthaway Syrah 2014 ($28). Enjoyable, but the creamy fruit doesn’t quite knit together with the savory, tangy finish.
J. McClellan Napa Valley Merlot 2014 ($28). Brambly, lightly purple fruit flavors with lots of toasty oak.
Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 ($35). A nice, mild, smooth CCR with mature cherry and raspberry flavor, and a bit of a rasp, yet not overly crisp.
Henry’s Drive Padthaway Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($40). An enjoyable combo of fruit flavors — lovely cassis from the shiraz with lightly herbal cabernet – and well-integrated tannins.
J. McClelland Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($45). Big flavors of ripe cherries and blackberries, with lots of oak toast and buttery corn notes.
Ramey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2016 ($48). Rich and juicy, but not overly so, with good fruit intensity and a crisp tang on the finish.
Badia a Coltibuono “Montebello” Toscano IGT 2013 ($60). A Super-Tuscan blend of ten grapes producing a rich mélange of red and black fruits and a crisp finish.
Vallado Douro Touriga Nacional 2015 ($60). Red and black fruits, lean, but with good intensity.
Vallado Douro Field Blend Reserva 2015 ($65). Like a well-bred Bordeaux but juicier, with good berry fruit and a lean finish. Bordeaux may not have its own official day (yet), but here are 18 other wine holidays that are an excellent excuse to pop some corks.