Looking back over my “Wine on Wednesday” posts I can see that I have neglected one of my very favorite types of wine: the blend.  This is a wine that has more than one variety of grape in it.  Now, many so-called single varietal wines actually have more than one type of grape in them, too.  There are some loopholes, but in general a wine must have seventy-five per cent of one designation to be bottled with that name on its label.

There are lots of reasons for adding other wines to a single variety wine.  Cabernet Franc is often added for structure.  Adding Merlot to an intense Cabernet Sauvignon can help smooth out the wine. In whites, another variety may be added to Chardonnay to increase the acidity.

Whether red or white, I love the complexity and texture of a blend– if it is well done, of course.  Blends need balance and without a deft hand in the wine-making they can go horribly wrong… think cheap. A bad blend throws me back to the eighties wine coolers, ugh.  Also, for those of you just dipping a toe into the pool of wine-tasting, while blends are a lovely and very accessible taste profile to the novice, it does make it harder to teach your palate the characteristics of a Syrah if you are drinking a Syrah-Pinot Noir blend.

There’s an element of fun as one tries to pick up the different notes of the varietals.  It is interesting to see what each type is bringing to the table, so to speak.  In some parts of the world, nearly all the wines made are blends.  The archetypal blend would be something like the classic Bordeaux which is made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.  In California we are more likely to drink single variety wines and thus, wineries promote and market them as such.  Whereas in Europe, you are far more likely to buy by the winery and wine growing appellation (region).  The type of grape might not even be listed on the bottle because it’s common knowledge amongst most wine-drinking Europeans that a Southern Rhone blend is made of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. (That’s GSM to us Californians.)

Getting back to this week’s wine, I’d like to talk about a local vintage.  It’s called The Spur and it is made by Livermore Valley’s own Wente-owned Murrieta’s Well.  Apparently the winery was on a Fifty Shades of Gray bend as it also makes a white blend called The Whip.  Or perhaps a cowboy bend? Both?

But, I digress.

2011 Murrieta's Well "The Spur"

2011 Murrieta’s Well “The Spur”

This wine is rich without being syrupy.  It has layered flavors of cherry, berry and hints of chocolate and anise.  Serve it with anything grilled- yum.  To those who disparage the size and over the topness of some California wines, this one will make you a believer.  While it possesses intense flavor it is not a palate blaster, over whelming foods.  This one is made to go with and enhance your meal.  At 13.5% alcohol, it’s more in line with European counterparts.  It is made up of 31% Petite Syrah, 29% Petite Verdot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Franc. To read the wine maker’s tasting notes click here.

In these wine pieces I always like to include a bit about where I enjoyed the wine.  For me, wine is more than a simple alcoholic beverage, it is an experience to be shared with friends and family.  A bottle should be an event, and a joyful one at that.  We were celebrating my friend Wendy’s birthday at Campo di Bocce.  Campo di Bocce is a local place for fun, food, wine, and bocce.  They allow outside wines without a corkage fee if the bottles are from local wineries.  We stopped off and picked up several bottles purely based on whether they were local.  By happy serendipity, one of them was The Spur.  Now I am a definite fan.  I hope you all will enjoy it as well!

Bday gal Wendy and our (soon to be) empty bottle of Spur.

Bday gal Wendy and our (soon to be) empty bottle of Spur.


This post was written by Erika Gardner.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on this blog.  Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner or “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.  Check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.