Curious about red blends? Start with some of these must-try bottles from Napa to Bordeaux.
If you’ve ever wondered which is technically better, blends or wines produced from single grape varieties, the good news is that you’re not alone. Unfortunately, the answer is complicated.
Neither is inherently better than the other. In Burgundy, the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on which the region’s reputation is built remains unblended in the bottle. Bordeaux, on the other hand, is a region predicated on blending, with Cabernet Sauvignon dominating on the Left Bank and Merlot and Cabernet Franc on the Right Bank.
Then, there’s the issue of wines that are labeled with a single grape variety, but that are actually blends of two or more. In the United States, a wine only has to be composed of 75% of a variety to be labeled as such. Even the most prestigious Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley often contain other grapes, which allows the winemaker to create a more balanced final wine. The decision to blend also supplements anything that’s lacking in the main variety, such as fruit, acidity, or tannin. Lastly, blending also serves as a bit of a de facto insurance policy: Each grape variety buds and matures at different times and if, say, a hail storm damages one particular variety, it may not as adversely affect another, depending on where it is in its process of maturation on the vine.
This is all to say that there is nothing inferior about blends. Some of the most prestigious reds in the world bring together two or more varieties. From the inexpensive to the cellar-worthy, these 13 red blends are cozy, comforting, and delicious to enjoy in the wintertime, as well as ad throughout the entire year.
2020 Château Lascombes Margaux
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot combine to produce a wine of energy, generosity, and savoriness. Plums, figs, cassis, pencil shavings, and dried lavender dance with sweet spices, toasty oak, and olives.
2019 Clos Apalta
This is an excellent vintage of one of the most iconic wines of Chile. It combines Carménère, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot to produce a wine of immense style and elegance that is fantastic right now and holds serious promise for another 20-plus years in the cellar. Dried figs, blackberries, cigar tobacco, singed sage, and cracked peppercorns commingle seamlessly, with the tea-like tannins riding through the long, layered finish.
2019 Clos de Los Siete
Michel Rolland is one of the most lauded wine consultants and winemakers in the world, and this $20 gem from the Uco Valley of Mendoza, Argentina, offers the chance to understand why. It’s a blend of Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot that sings with notes of fermented blueberries, fenugreek, chocolate ganache, and black and red raspberries.
Related: 17 Best Pinot Noirs for $25 or Less
2019 Domaine André Brunel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Cailloux
Stony and sanguine with a great hit of iron through the base, this wine shows cherries and brambly berries, tiny wild strawberries, and cured olives. The balance between sweet forest fruits, bright acidity, and scrubby dried herbs is well-calibrated, and the acidity pulsing through is excellent in this blend of Grenache, Mouvedre, Syrah, and Cinsault.
2021 Double Diamond Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine
This elegant red from iconic Napa Valley producer Shrader can be enjoyed now with some air, or age gracefully in the cellar for another 10 to 15 years. Right now, it’s energetic and buoyant, with bright red berry fruit and tart cherries, blueberries, and a dusting of cocoa powder. Cedar and led pencil shavings sing through the mineral finish.
2020 Jonata Todos
Black licorice, figs, carob, black and green olives, baker's chocolate, sweet spice, and leather are all propelled along with serious energy and lovely spice. Tea-like tannins promise another decade of life, but I wouldn’t have the patience to wait. It’s from Ballard Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley, and composed of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, and assorted other varieties.
2019 Joseph Phelps Insignia
Even though this bottle is labeled “red wine” as opposed to a particular grape variety, it’s dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (93%), which is blended with Petit Verdot and Malbec. This vintage of the legend is a wine of monumental beauty, clearly built for the cellar yet so impressive and appealing right now…even just smelling it: Dried flowers, pencil led, cedar plank, toasty oak, and star anise-spiced plums ring. On the palate, this wine is dripping with toasty vanilla, chocolate ganache, rose hips, blood oranges, figs, sage, and a mineral core.
2018 La Caccia di San Giovanni Toscana Rosso
The nose on this wine is so beautifully evocative of Tuscany, with its thyme and rosemary, hints of lavender, leather, tobacco, and brambly berries, all before a structured and elegant palate that unfurls in flavors of black cherries, amaro spice, black-cherry pipe tobacco, tea, and a dusting of cocoa powder. Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and Petit Verdot.
2021 Las Jaras Enz Vineyard Red Wine
Hailing from the Lime Kiln Valley AVA in the Central Coast of California, this blend of organically farmed Zinfandel, Mourvèdre (planted in 1923), and Cabernet Pfeffer (planted in 1895!) rolls along in waves of black raspberries, wild strawberries, pink peppercorns, sweet spice, and a structuring spine of something almost chalky that lingers on the mouthwatering finish.
2020 Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore
This comes on in a spectacular swell of warm plum cobbler, blackberries, crushed blueberries, cigar tobacco, oregano, and figs. After a bit of time in the glass, flavors of Amarena cherries and woodsy spice emerge, all brilliantly cut with well-defined, slightly saline acidity. Enjoy it now with air or through 2050 and beyond if you choose: Its future is incredibly bright. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.
Related: The 43 Best Syrahs to Buy Right Now
2020 San Pedro 1865 Master Blend
Bringing together Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot from along the length of Chile, this lively red is silky in texture, flecked with peppercorns and star anise, and mouthwatering with mountain berries, tart cherries, and orange zest.
2022 The Language of Yes Cuvee Sinsó
A Central Coast blend of Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, Tannat, and Viognier, this wine is full of life and vibrancy. It’s juicy, generous with brambly berries, garrigue, spice, orange-citrus acidity, strawberry fruit leather, and cracked peppercorns that ring alongside cranberries and red raspberries.
2019 Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon - Shiraz
There is such sweet fruit in this beauty from Barossa, including blackberries, brandied cherries, and boysenberries. They all find dance partners with chocolate-covered espresso beans and something that is reminiscent of pepper-crusted and maple-glazed bacon. Anytime between now and the next twenty years or so, this promises to deliver serious pleasure.
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