It is a common request from customers for a “red blend” although I think they often do not understand that in the world of wine that encompasses more than it eliminates in selection. It is hard to believe now, but until the 1970’s it was very uncommon in most wine regions to produce single varietal bottlings. Based on the European tradition that the sum is greater than the individual parts virtually all wines were blends. Varietal wines did not come along until the early pioneers of the modern California wine industry realized that they needed to separate themselves from the oceans of cheap California blends being sold under the misnomer of “burgundy.” Of course even most varietally labeled wines from California are often blended with minor components, but that is another story.
This month I present two blends from South Africa, a country that not only has a long history of blended red wines but also one that I feel is leading the modern charge among New World producers. The blends are very different and offer a fantastic glimpse into the exciting world of South African wines.