Whenever I see something weird included in a high-end Meritage/Bordeaux blend, I *cringe* a little. Not that it is a horrible thing–maybe *cringe* is a little too strong–let’s just say I put a little asterisk next to the wine. Sure, Australians have been blending Cab and Syrah for decades–amazingly successfully–but that’s Australia. Have you seen the size of their SPIDERS?!? I do not cringe nearly as hard with Syrah as I do with Zinfandel, though–or Petite Sirah. Adding Zinfandel to a BDX blend is pure treason. But that’s another blog…. First of all, I assume everybody reading this knows what I am talking about. In a perfect world, everyone reading this is a complete #winedork and is nodding along at home. But it has come to my attention recently not everyone knows everything about wine. Today some woman posted a definition of ‘veraison’ on Instagram, and at first I laughed, but then realized perhaps some education–all of which us dorks take for granted–could be welcome. So you dorks skip the next paragraph.
Classic Bordeaux blends have FIVE grape varieties in them. Cabernet Sauvignon (CAB), Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. That’s it. Pay attention! THERE WILL BE A QUIZ. 5 varietals. In Umerica, it is typically 50% cab and then maybe 20ish, 10ish, 5ish and 5ish percent. Almost always. In France (Bordeaux) it is very common for the Merlot and Cab to be reversed, with ME being the heavy ingredient. But the new world has this abhorrence for Merlot… sad, really–and that is another post altogether. Justin Justification comes to mind as an amazing New World BDX blend with NO Cabernet Sauvignon–but it is a rarity, and there you have it. Remember this. Cab, ME, CF, Bec and PV. Bordeaux blends. End of conversation. (Carmenere is a conversation involving Phlloxera and a big frost and Classification and a bunch of other crap you don’t want to hear about)
So: That’s cleared up. School’s out for summer. Every time I see something weird included in a BDX blend, I cringe a little. Today Wolff Vineyards in Edna Valley rolled out a red blend with a good chunk of Syrah in it–and I cringed a little. This is not to say it is a bad wine, it’s… just… (Disclaimer: Just using this as reference/haven’t had it/sure it is lovely wine/Wolff is AWESOME). So this San Marcos is 22% Petite Sirah, and I paused, but decided to trust them. All estate fruit. Beautiful dense ruby with clear edges. A heady alcohol and briar nose with just a touch of banana-peel and something viscous: like raw egg whites or ground beef. Generously fruited and definitely ripe on the palate with ample oak and acid to balance things out. Searingly tannic and a wallop of burnt-rubber and wet leather bitterness enveloping the finish. This might seem off-balance unless you are a die-hard Alexander Valley Cab fan. Oh wait! I am the world’s biggest Alex Valley Cab fan!!! So I LIKE THIS! A little brash and rowdy, but still elegant. Yes! It is shockingly good–as I have driven past this winery at least 4 million times and smiled at the French flags and chuckled at the Tudor-styling and raised eyebrows at the 101-Frontage location. I am glad I stopped.
What are the 5 varietals in a BDX blend? No cheating.
2010 SAN MARCOS CREEK Sapphire Paso Robles 14.4