A California winemaker came to Miami a while ago and held a seminar on blending red wines. It was a revelation, demonstrating to me, at least, that adding just 2 percent of sweet, soft malbec wine to a muscular cabernet sauvignon could take off some of its tannic edge and make it purr.
In part, this is why red wine blends are gaining such popularity right now. Some wine fans say inexpensive red blends will replace white zinfandel as entry wines for the Millennial Generation as it reaches drinking age.
“In recent years, blends have accounted for almost 41 percent of he new wine entrants in the U.S. market,” says a report by the New York-based Nielsen Co. market research firm.
It goes on: “In a way, red blends are currently the craft beer of the wine category. They’re hip, different and trending.”
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▪ 2013 Shafer “One Point Five” Cabernet Sauvignon, “Stags Leap District, Napa Valley (99 percent cabernet sauvignon, 1 percent petit verdot): aromas of sweet oak and black cherries, flavors of black raspberries and black pepper, opulent and full-bodied, big, ripe tannins; $85.
▪ 2012 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (75.5 percent cabernet sauvignon, 16.6 percent merlot, 3.3 percent cabernet franc, 2.6 percent petit verdot, 2 percent malbec): hint of oak, aromas and opulent flavors of black plums, bittersweet chocolate and spice, long, smooth finish; $50.
▪ 2013 Kenwood Vineyards “Jack London” Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Mountain (99 percent cabernet Sauvignon, 1 percent syrah): aromas and flavors of black plums and pumpkin pie spices, rich and hearty and smooth, long finish; $35.
▪ 2012 Matanzas Creek Winery Merlot, Sonoma County (97.7 percent merlot, 2.3 percent cabernet sauvignon): aromas and flavors of red raspberries, mocha and herbs, smooth tannins, long finish; $28.
▪ 2013 Avant Red Blend by Kendall-Jackson, Santa Rosa (50 percent merlot, 22 percent syrah, 9 percent cabernet sauvignon, 9 percent malbec, 7 percent petite sirah, 3 percent carignan and others): soft and smooth, with aromas and flavors of red raspberries and milk chocolate; $17.
▪ 2014 Leese-Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County (80 percent cabernet sauvignon, 8 percent merlot, 4 percent grenache, 2 percent tempranillo, 2 percent barbara, 2 percent alicante bouchet, 2 percent mixed varieties): aromas and flavors of black raspberries, cinnamon and milk chocolate, full body; $12.
▪ 2011 Trione Cabernet Sauvignon “Block Twenty-One,” Alexander Valley (85 percent cabernet sauvignon, 9 percent merlot, 2 percent cabernet franc, 2 percent petit verdot, 2 percent malbec): hint of oak, aromas and flavors of black plums and cinnamon, big, ripe tannins, smooth finish; $67.