Discover the art of blending and learn how can you try it out for yourself
Assemblage or blending is a method of combining different grape varieties to create a rich and harmonious wine. This centuries-old process requires a lot of expertise and talent and is largely responsible for Bordeaux’s reputation and status as a top wine-producing region.
Various factors have to be taken into account for the process of assemblage, which differ for each vintage: the development of the varietal based on the age of the vines, what they are exposed to, the type of soil, plot management and – last but not least – different weather conditions every year!
Bordeaux wines are blended wines
Bordeaux wines are usually produced by combining several varietals, plots or regions. But why complicate matters, even though single-varietal wines are all the rage these days? The answer is simple – blending wines allows winemakers to accentuate their qualities. Once the art of assemblage has been mastered, the typicity of each region can really be revealed and each of the components can be optimally expressed. According to this “1+1=3” principle, assemblage adds a soul to the wines of Bordeaux.
What is the process of blending like
Once the grapes have been harvested, the cellar master produces each wine separately, varietal by varietal, and eventually plot by plot, thus allowing the diverse expressions of the region/varietal duo to be maintained. Once this meticulous job is finished, the cellar master has a palette of vintages at his or her disposal with all the different elements needed to perfect the final blend – the wine produced through assemblage.
The cellar master, winemaker, owner and oenologist taste the different wines. This is an essential step to ensure the vintage is perfect. Then the different percentages needed from each varietal have to be determined that will be used to produce the final wine of that vintage.
This skilful exercise is carried out by passionate and visionary winemakers, who perform a number of tests and tastings until they finally reach the balance representative of the “house” style.
Red Bordeaux blends always offer a subtle mixture of Merlot (providing the wine with round, generous and complex aromas), Cabernet-Sauvignon (responsible for the structure, bouquet and ageing potential of the wine) and sometimes Cabernet-Franc, which adds a little touch of suppleness and elegance. From time to time, especially in the Médoc region, a bit of Petit-Verdot is added for more structure, colour and aromatic richness. Naturally, the proportions will vary depending on the dominant varietals in the appellations, but also depending on the year and susceptibility of each blend.
How you can try blending Bordeaux wines and create your own blend to enjoy after work?
Join winemakers and Bordeaux wine tutor Abbie Bennington, for one of the most exciting events in this year’s wine-lovers calendar, Bordeaux Blend – the first event of its kind in the UK.
Taking place in the heart of Fitzrovia at private members club Mortimer House, on the evenings of Wednesday 2nd – Thursday 3rd November, Bordeaux wines will be giving wine enthusiasts exclusive insight into the making of Bordeaux wines and the region’s fascinating art of blending.
Kicking off the Bordeaux Blend experience will be an introduction to Bordeaux, its terroirs and the winemaking practices. Guests will have the opportunity to sample wines from the region, and those who think they are a dab hand at wine tasting can place bets at the Bordeaux Casino to really test their knowledge. Next, it’s into the blending room to make your own Bordeaux wine, by carefully mixing wines made from different Bordeaux grapes.
While it takes years to truly master the art of blending, Bordeaux Blend provides a one-of-a-kind experience and behind-the-scenes demonstration of Bordeaux winemaking, with a small bottle of your own blended wine to take home at the end.
The dates of the Bordeaux Blend experience are:
Wednesday 2nd November: 6pm – 7:30pm (blending of white grapes only)
Thursday 3rd November: 6 – 7:30pm (blending of white grapes only)