Single varietals in the U.S. in most cases, must contain a minimum of 75% of one varietal type. Therefore, even a bottle that is labeled a Cabernet Sauvignon, may have up to 25% of another type of grape. Typical “blenders” with Cabernet are Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot. While a single varietal may have 100% of one varietal, there is no limit on mixing grapes from different vineyards as long as they are from the same vintage year.
When comparing single varietals, it’s important to read the label. Trying wines with 100% of one varietal can be a valuable and educational experience. There are some advocates who feel that one can only appreciate a great blend if they’ve tasted the varietals that have gone into the blending. Pairings are much easier as well. Those who love a specific grape variety will get great pleasure from finding the best 100% varietal wine selection. A couple wineries known for their single varietal wines are Silver Oak and Sterling Vineyards.
Keep reading to learn about blends!
On the other hand, there are many wine makers and wine lovers who believe that blending is the mix of different grape varieties together to create a greater whole than the sum of the parts. Several wineries in California are known for these types of blends and are focused on their offerings in this category. One of those wineries, Justin Vineyards in Paso Robles, creates both Bordeaux blends (primary varietal is Cabernet) and a Southern Rhone Blend (primary varietal is Syrah), while also producing an excellent Cabernet Sauvignon.
So the answer always comes down to the palate of the consumer. That said, it is important to know what is in a blend and the kind of taste you are looking for. Mollie Stone’s carries several excellent single varietal wines from wineries such as Silver Oak, Robert Mondavi, and Chalone. To try blends, try Apothic, Menage a Trois, or Red Rock Winemakers Blend.