The answer’s simple - because they’re exciting, well-thought out white wines designed to entice your palate and showcase the good bits from the grapes in which they’re made from. The grapes within a blend compliment each other - think of the punk rock days and music; a combo of instruments and sounds that make music that make you wanna rock n roll. Blends work and are surprisingly delicious to drink so get on in!
The white blend world is different to the red blend world as there’s not many ‘common’ grapes combinations. Instead, there’s a few somewhat common grapes such as Semillon, Viognier, Gewurztraminer and Marsanne (disclaimer - that’s a tiny example selection). They all bring something different to the table as, for example, gewurztraminer brings floral sweetness and sweet spice, whereas Semillon is often used to lighten the fruity weight of the Sauv grape. Sauvignon Blanc is flashier than Sémillon. It brings more intense fruit flavors, a more vivid acidity and a lighter body to the table. Sémillon is heavier, with lower acidity and an appealing, adding an almost oily or waxy quality to it. Blended together, Sémillon can give Sauvignon Blanc a terrific structure and weight, the two balancing each other out. White blends are a little left field, hard to come by but once you find a blend you like, trust us you’ll want to go back for more.
Photo credit Wine Folly.
Marsanne is for the adventurous Sauvignon Blanc drinker and brings freshness and weight with great personality and charm to any blend.
Some countries tend to blend white grapes more than others’. France, for example, produces an array of white blends with some key players being Semillon, Sauv, Marsanne & Roussane. They too produce one of the most famous white blends of all, Champagne, but we’re not heading down that rabbit hole (another time…) and we want to show you some of our favourite still white blends.
Back in NZ, it’s not overly common to see white blends being produced as our cooler climate creates beautiful purity of fruit, perfumed aromatics and the grape expression is pretty darn good. We’re not completely biased as we know the rest of the world also produce great single grape wines but we needed a segway into the the question of why would you blend? We’ll use The Hunting Lodge Marsanne Viognier 2016 to answer this question.
Start your love affair with the Rhone. Red or white wine – you will fall in love with one or the other soon enough. Here we have a Marsanne & Viognier blend. Yeah it sounds like a high fashion brand but this is a collaboration you can afford. Two white grapes. Energetic and vibrant.
Marsanne was born in the village and abbey of Marsanne, in northern france. Plump in character with flavours of hedgerow blossoms, white almonds and an alluring fatness on the palate. Viognier’s attraction lies in the grapes rich texture and scents- exotic flowers like jasmine, freesia and oleander. Blend the two white grapes together and you create a wine with gentle but penetrating character. Together they’re like melted butter on a croissant.
Viognier is tropical in both texture and scent with exotic flowers, freesia and other delicious Gisborne fruit shining through. It’s also a bit chunky and rich adding palate weight and a luscious mouthfeel. The Marsanne then brings a refined textured and adds notes of honeysuckle. So as you can imagine this is a big, juicy wine and anything but dull - exactly as a white blend should be!
Now it’s impossible for us to tell you what blend best suits your palate however we can recommend some points -
- If you like roses, aromatic aromas and florally wines look for viognier and gewurztraminer grapes in the blend.
- Marsanne adds lovely texture and subtle aromatics. Good if you’re after more complexity and a textured wine. If you have holidayed in the South of France, with your feet dangling in the pool and drinking a house white, you would have probably drunk a Rhone blend.
- Classic varietals (Sauv, Chard etc) can taste very different! So if you’re strictly not a Sauv drinker then don’t be stubborn - try it in a blend. Remember a lot of work goes on down in the winery. Everything changes the way the wine will eventually taste. Ask yourself this is the wine oaked? (think nutty vanilla characteristics) , is it barrel fermented? (think of a somewhat oily palate with some nuttiness) , is it aged ( think of more umami, savoury flavours).We want to help you find the wine YOU love!