Wine Blends – Wine Folly Wine Club 004

This month’s wine club shipment theme is “Wine Blends.”

We’ll be tasting four blended wines to discover how winemakers use different grapes to create balance. Blending creates smoothness in wine by enlisting each grape variety for its aroma, taste, or texture. Together, each variety contributes to a blended wine that tastes complete.

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Wine Folly Wine Club 004 photo
This month’s wine club shipment features wall to wall wine blends.

Wine Club 004: Wine Blends

You might think a single varietal wine is the best scenario for getting a delicious, high-quality bottle of wine. But a well-blended wine has the potential to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Wine blends are most loved for their supple, smooth, and balanced texture from start to finish.

Of course, blending isn’t as free-for-all as you might think. Classic blends like red Bordeaux, define the majority of red blends in the marketplace. Many of these blends have specific rules on what grape varieties can be blended together.

Taste 3 classics and 1 off-the-wall blend

For this month’s shipment, we’ve included three classic blends that you must know and one that goes against the grain. Let’s explore this delicious balancing act with:

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  1. Podere Sapaio “Volpolo” Bolgheri 2019 Tuscany, Italy
  2. Cellier des Princes Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2018 Rhône, France
  3. Three Wine Company “Established 1855 Red Wine” 2015 Contra Costa County, California
  4. Delille Cellars “Chaleur Blanc” 2020 Columbia Valley, Washington
Vanessa Conlin introduces this month's wine club.

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A True Super Tuscan

Podere Sapaio “Volpolo” Bolgheri 2019 Tuscany, Italy

“Super Tuscan” is a flexible term, but generally means a bottling of non-indigenous grapes (usually French varieties), sometimes blended with Italy’s native Sangiovese. Sapaio opted to follow the lead of the Left Bank Bordeaux, basing their Volpolo on rich, opulent Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bearing the mark of legendary Tuscan winemaker Carlo Ferrini, the Volpolo’s 70% Cabernet lays a foundation of blue and black fruit flavors, while 15% Petit Verdot lends muscular tannins and 15% Merlot contributes satiny texture. After 14 months in French oak barriques, the wine is seamless and imbued with a touch of spice.

Follow along with the tasting video with Vanessa Conlin on YouTube.


The Pope’s favorite blend

Cellier des Princes Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2018 Rhône, France

Named for the residence of the 14th-century breakaway Pope for its star status and privileged location near Avignon (the name literally means new-castle-of-the-Pope), it’s been the most coveted wine of the Southern Rhône for over five centuries. Cellier des Princes’ grapes grow in a mixture of the two most desirable soils in the area: the legendary galets roulés—giant river rocks that hold daytime heat and radiate it back at night—which provide power and richness, and sandy soils that provide balance while accentuating the grapes’ aromatic elegance.

This blend is 90% Grenache, the dominant grape of Châteauneuf, which provides the buoyant fruit, silky texture, and rich body of the wine, and 5% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre, which bring peppery spice and earthy dark fruit to the table, respectively. The wine aged in large concrete tanks, resulting in a wine that emphasizes purity of fruit and shows no oak influence.

Follow along with the tasting video with Vanessa Conlin on YouTube.


Necessity is the mother of invention

Three Wine Company “Established 1855 Red Wine” 2015 Contra Costa County, California

Cline, whose wines have inspired thousands of near-perfect Wine Access member reviews, described the Established 1885 like this: “In the beginning, you get red and black fruit from the Zin, which develops into black cherry and silky tannins from the Carignane. The Mataro is the glue that keeps it all together with earthiness and spice.”

Two vineyards, Evangelho and Bigelow, have ancient vines planted in Delhi sandy soils that look almost like pure beach sand. Roots extend 40 feet down, and they eke out tiny, richly-concentrated grapes with scintillating natural acidity. To the nearly equal parts Zinfandel, Carignane, and Mataro, Cline adds splashes of Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet that deepen the wine’s color and aromatics.

The grapes reflect the varieties that dominated the landscape during the California wine industry’s pre-Prohibition days. “The question was, why did early growers plant so much of those three varieties?” Matt explained. “When I made this wine, I found out: It’s the complete wine.”

Follow along with the tasting video with Vanessa Conlin on YouTube.


New world, old world style

Delille Cellars “Chaleur Blanc” 2020 Columbia Valley, Washington

Old World elegance, meet New World vibrancy. Aromas of lemon curd, grapefruit, and vanilla call from the glass, previewing the layers of citrus, tree fruit, and herbs that emerge on the palate. Aged on the lees in 60% new French oak, the wine perfectly balances the crisp energy we love in Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon’s weight and texture to yield a creamy richness that will enthrall Chardonnay lovers.

The DeLille team assembled the blend from three of the state’s most prized vineyards. Klipsun, a sunny site in the hills above the Yakima River that Wine & Spirits once named one of the Top 25 Vineyards in the World, contributes ripe, bold fruit. Boushey, a cooler, high-elevation plot in the Yakima Valley adds freshness and aromatic depth. And Sagemoor, whose old vines in the heart of the Columbia Valley deliver grapes of excellent concentration.

Follow along with the tasting video with Vanessa Conlin on YouTube.


Framed Red Wine Blends Poster - Wine Folly

Love blends? We love them so much we made a poster.

Enjoy nineteen of the world’s most famous blends on this Wine Folly original framed poster print.


Wine Folly Wine Club - 4 wines every 2 months

Join Us Next Time!

The Wine Folly Wine Club is a bimonthly club (once every 2 months) that features four expertly curated wines to expand your mind and sense of taste. You can learn more about the Wine Folly Wine Club here.

Buy the book, get a course.

Buy the book, get a course.

Get the Wine 101 Course ($50 value) FREE with the purchase of Wine Folly: Magnum Edition.

Buy Now

About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly