What to drink this week

Multi-va­ri­etal com­plex­ity

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook -

When it comes to grape va­ri­eties, there’s no harm in mix­ing it up, says Harry Eyres

The fash­ion for sin­gle va­ri­etal wines started, I seem to re­mem­ber, in the 1980s. I even edited a se­ries of books on the sub­ject. Grape va­ri­eties were eas­ier to grasp than com­plex and un­pro­nounce­able vine­yard names; get a han­dle on half a dozen va­ri­eties (Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon, Chardon­nay, Pinot Noir, Ries­ling, Syrah, Sau­vi­gnon Blanc) and you were well on your way to un­der­stand­ing wine. Now, there’s a counter-move­ment: even in re­gions known for sin­gle va­ri­etal wines, some pro­duc­ers are go­ing for multi-va­ri­etal blends.

Why you should be drink­ing them

In some wine re­gions (Bor­deaux, the Douro, Châteauneuf-du-pape), a mix of va­ri­eties has al­ways been the norm, partly as an in­surance against one va­ri­ety fail­ing. But, now, a new gen­er­a­tion of wine grow­ers is sug­gest­ing that a mélange of grapes is not just safer, but bet­ter for flavour and com­plex­ity.

What to drink

I men­tioned Châteauneuf-du-pape, where, fa­mously, 13 grape va­ri­eties are per­mit­ted. I was most im­pressed by the Châteauneuf-du-pape, Sig­na­ture, Do­maine La Bar­roche 2009 (be­low, £32.50; www.jus­teri­nis. com): lovely sweet fruit and fruit­cakey com­plex­ity. Al­sace is a much less likely source of multi-va­ri­etal wines, but the quest­ing Do­maine Mar­cel Deiss, the wines of which I have long ad­mired, is go­ing in this di­rec­tion with its whites. The 2014 Al­sace (£16.50; www.leaand­sande man.co.uk) is made from 13 grape va­ri­eties and has rich­ness and spice on the nose, lots of mouth­feel and good acid­ity. The 2013 En­gel­gar­ten (£29.50; www. leaand­sande­man.co.uk) is made from five va­ri­eties, with the pure limey struc­ture of Ries­ling com­ing through, but also a good deal of rich­ness from Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc.

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