The Bordeaux Blend

It still boggles my mind that there’s a misconception amongst a select few people out there that blends are of less quality than single-variety wines. Usually when this gets brought up, the knee-jerk example I have to dispute this myth is that Bordeaux wines (some of the most coveted and expensive in the world) are almost-always made from a blend of grapes. The typical Bordeaux blend is composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc (not necessarily in that order), and possibly a small dose of Malbec and/or Petit Verdot. In fact, the Bordeaux blend works so well that it’s a common mix employed in many other global wine regions. More about the sum than its parts, each variety brings a little something different to the table, resulting in a complete (and delicious) wine. Let’s look at a fine example of a Bordeaux blend from the site, Laughing Stock’s 2012 Portfolio, and break it down to the five grapes it’s composed of to illustrate how each variety contributes to the big picture.

45% Merlot

Merlot does a good chunk of the fruit-flavour work in this scenario, bringing much of the plushy red and black berry fruit, along with a touch of plummy character.

25% Cabernet Sauvignon

This is where we get a lot of the wine’s sturdy backbone, giving the wine fine tannic structure along with textbook varietal flavours of currants, bell pepper, eucalyptus and perhaps a little cedar.

22% Cabernet Franc

Not quite as hearty as Cabernet Sauvignon, the Franc brings brighter red fruit, some violets and a touch of herbal character.

7% Malbec

In this case, a little goes a long way. The Malbec bring some oomph to the mix in the form of juicy purple fruit, and assisting the blend by rounding things out a little more so it’s less linear or intense.

1% Petit Verdot

This little splash adds a touch more inky colour, and a good drop of concentrated black and purple berry fruit.

Add in some well-appointed French oak to frame the whole picture, and you have a great example of a well-built, quite-complex Okanagan take on a Bordeaux blend. As with many a great Bordeaux, drink now or lay it down for a few years. Either way, enjoy!


Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based wine consultant, writer, competition judge and enthusiast. He’s not half as fancy/boring as that sounds. He Tweets and Instagrams @KurtisKolt.