Wine enthusiasts in the U.S. have long shown a fondness for red blends and the popularity of this wine style continues to grow. Characterized by their unique blend of multiple grape varieties, red blends offer a diverse array of flavors, which is why this wine style has become a staple on many lists, wine cellars and social gatherings.
One of the primary reasons for the appeal of red blends is their ability to be both complex and balanced. Some of the world’s best winemakers curate and expertly combine various grape varieties, often from different regions, to achieve a harmonious symphony of flavors. Unlike single blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Sangiovese, the blending process allows for a wider range of taste experiences, culminating in a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts, ranging from robust and fruity to soft and smooth.
In addition, red blends offer versatility in food pairings with various cuisines, making them an ideal choice for social gatherings and dinners, as they can complement an array of dishes with varying attributes of fat, salt, acid and sugar. Furthermore they are a great “value for quality” wine since the winemaker has latitude to select varietals in varying quantities and style.
So without further delay, here are my SAVI Somm top three red blends for 2023:
1. Chappellet Mountain Cuvee – Made from a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 14% Merlot, 12% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Franc, this Napa California blend is beautifully aromatic, with concentrated notes of red currant, boysenberry, cassis, roasted coffee and dark chocolate. On the palate it is rich and mouth coating and will pair well with any protein or vegetarian dishes boasting cream or ample fat.
2. Insoglio from Biserno – This incredible super Tuscan has a high pedigree as the baby sister of the two older siblings, Il Pino and Biserno, both very sought after Tuscan wines. Made from 32% Syrah and a secret remaining blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot, Insoglio has an intense nose of dark fruits, blackberries, floral notes and a hint of spicy oak. Featuring a light to medium rich body with a fine structure and balance, this selection is the utility knife of wine pairings. I personally open this wine on weeknights when we have some homemade sauce ready to use with pasta or polenta.
3. Chateau Pedesclaux, Fleur De Pedesclaux – For all practical purposes, red blends originated in Bordeaux, France, where the practice of blending five or sometimes six varietals was common practice. This affordable Bordeaux (yes, a complete oxymoron) boasts 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet franc. Thanks to its reliance on a high proportion of Merlot, this wine is soft and gentle, with a delicious, silky texture and compelling and savory fruit aromas. This is perfect with a slight chill in the summer to pair with charcuterie on a Lowcountry afternoon.
As the wine industry continues to evolve, the love for red blends in the U.S. is likely to endure, as consumers relish in the richness and diversity that this unique wine style brings to their glasses and gatherings. No matter which wine you try, stay adventurous — your favorite find is just around the corner.
Ty Raju, Certified Sommelier
BENE HG Wine Director