Single-varietal Wine or Blended Wine?
What to drink? A single-varietal wine or something blended? In any case, it’s hard to answer this question, but it was worth trying…
What is a single-varietal wine?
Single-varietal wine is made from a singular grape variety. Usually, a small percentage of other varieties are allowed in single-varietal wine. In Croatia, up to 15% of other varieties can be added for the wine to be labeled as a single-varietal.
I believe that single-varietals are wines that have a specific character with clearly defined organoleptic properties. They can be enhanced by aging on fine lees, in a proper barrel, or amphora. What wine lovers expect from these wines and appreciate are clear varietal characteristics, and preferably also recognizable terroir traits.
What are blended wines?
A blended wine uses at least two different grape varieties. These varieties can be blended in many ways, sometimes they are picked and fermented together, and sometimes they are blended in the cellar.
With blended (multi-varietal) wines a somewhat wider spectrum of aromas and flavors is expected. The reason behind it is that each grape in a blend gives its contribution to achieving a greater “splendor”. Every enologist pays attention to the ratio that can give the best results when using a stainless steel vat or a barrel. We tested some representatives of multi-varietal wines at our “White Blends” tasting:
A wine produced with organically grown grapes, a blend of Manzoni, Graševina, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon. The smell is seductive, which is also the main attribute of this wine thanks to grape varieties with a pronounced aromatic profile. It smells of yellow fruit, like apricot and pineapple. On the palate, it is harmonious and pleasant. The acidity is nicely balanced so that the residual sugar (semi-dry wine) is not too high. It’s a light to medium-bodied wine, pleasant and refreshing, with lower alcohol (12.5%).
This wine is among the best white blends in Croatia. The color is yellow-green, with pronounced floral and fruity aromas, of peach, almond, and apple. The balance is excellent. The mouthful is long, and the wine is creamy, dense, delicate, and harmonious. Maturing in oak barrels was done very precisely. The aging potential is at least 3 to 5 years, probably much more.
Grabovac Draga Riserva 2016
This winery is not on our radar, and that is a shame! Draga Riserva is a blend of Chardonnay, Pošip, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Žilavka. The wine is special thanks to the firmness and cremosity of Chardonnay, a hint of Mediterranean herbs from Pošip, the ripe fruitiness of Sauvignon, Viognier, with Žilavka giving a touch of the terroir. The color is golden-yellow; the wine is very complex, mature, rounded, and long-lasting in the mouth. It was aged in wood and has long aging potential. The name comes from the position of Vučja draga. This wine was sold out a long time ago, but we certainly recommend younger vintages!
Terlaner Cuvee 2019
This wine is a typical example of a good cuvée from South Tyrol. Alto Adige is known for Pinot Blanc, which is not so well known, and in this wine, its share is 60%. Chardonnay (30%) carries the structure of the wine, and the rest 10% is Sauvignon Blanc. Twenty percent of the wine was aged in wood and then blended with the rest from stainless steel vats. Straw-yellow color, quite dense, with vivid reflections, pronounced but not overwhelming aromas (ripe yellow and white fruit – apricot, pear, a bit of citrus), and intensity. Medium to full-bodied, with a pleasant, mineral aftertaste, this wine is enjoyable, with a lingering finish.
Domaine des Senéchaux, Famillie J-M Cazes, Châteauneuf-Du-Pape 2018
A representative of the Rhône blend made from Russanne, Clarette, Grenache Blanc and Bouboulent grapes. It ages in a combination of stainless steel and old oak barrels. Straw-yellow color, with aromas of apricot and melon, hints of pineapple. On the palate, it is structured and fresh, mineral, with some subtle bitterness. Medium to full-bodied, with a long aftertaste. This wine can last for another 4-5 years.
Ščurek Stara Brajda 2011
Everybody knows that the Brda region in Slovenia is among the best wine regions in the world. One of the most peculiar local characters is Stojan Ščurek, who always puts the uncompromised quality of his wines first. Stara Brajda from a Magnum bottle vintage 2011, unfortunately, no more available on the market, left a strong impression at our tasting. The biggest terroir impact and character comes from the Rebula grape. It is also the most highly esteemed local grape, with a share of 60% in the blend. Picolit amounts to 20%, and the rest is Pika, Glera, and Tržarka. The color ranges from golden-yellow to old gold. The wine is very dense, full of intense ripe aromas with some hints of honey, yellow flowers, and oriental spices (piquant). On the palate, it is full and ripe, mineral and well-balanced. It features cremosity, a lingering finish, and a surprisingly nice freshness. This wine is a heaven for our senses and we will remember it for a long time.
How to choose between blended and single-varietal wine?
Finally, it is important that the wine is drinkable to begin with, easily paired with food, affordable and that it has something special that intrigues us. We have listed some of our favorites, and hope you might like them, too.
What is your choice?