20 December 2013

Graffigna & Jacob's Creek Red Blends

"I only drink single varietal grape wines."

I hear this every now and then from fellow wine drinkers, though with some variations on the use of the adjective varietal as a noun and a belief in purity of certain grapes. Kind of like how modern food enthusiasts justifiably don't want their olive oil cut with canola oil or their guacamole made up of mostly shortening.

But on each occasion I point out that most wines throughout history and to this day are blended, and that a 100% rating of a certain grape does not necessarily ensure quality. Over the years I have grown to embrace the gentle art of blending, which allows for different grapes to come together in the pursuit of the most important characteristic of wine: balance.

Below are two wines that I brought along to Thanksgiving lunch with Julia in Jonesboro, Arkansas. A good bargain red blend can go well with a broad range of dishes, and that sort of structure is perfect for a traditional southern holiday meal.

2012 Graffigna Centenario Elevation Red Blend
20% Bonarda, 20% Cabernet Saugivnon, 20% Malbec, 20% Syrah, 20% Tannat
Tulum Valley, Argentina
$15, 14%

Very interesting blend here, with equal measures of all four grapes as well as a sighting of Tannat from Argentina. This one opened up with aromas of plum and cherry, while the flavors tended towards prune and stewed fruit. Medium tannins and a long, dark fruit finish. I thought it was particularly good with the roast pork loin.

2012 Jacob's Creek Red Blend
South Eastern Australia
66% Shiraz, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Grenache, and 4% Petite Verdot
$10, 13.8%

Really dominant black cherry aromas, verging on cough syrup. After it breathes it softens up, allowing some of the more gentle blackberry and blueberry notes to show. A very curious blend of grapes that really needs a hearty steak with lots of seasoning.

Note: These wines were provided as samples for review.

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