When one thinks of Bordeaux wine, blends should immediately come to mind. Assemblage, to be specific—the fine art of blending grapes. The world looks to Bordeaux for the most famous and highly coveted wine blends in the world. The purpose behind assemblage is to highlight the positive attributes of grapes and eliminate the less desirable characteristics and get all of that loveliness into the bottle. In Bordeaux, five grapes are permissible for this process. They’re dubbed its five noble grapes and they’re all red.
These five noble grapes come together in Bordeaux to produce some of the world’s greatest wines.
- Cabernet Sauvignon is the powerhouse grape of Bordeaux. There’s no mistaking its presence with its tannins and high acidity. It makes a wine “full” and brings flavors of dark berries, currants and ripe dark fruit. Winemakers use it to infuse power, structure and aging potential.
- Merlot is the supple, elegant grape in the mix. It glides into a blend with smooth written all over it, bringing moderate tannins and medium acidity. Merlot is used for its rich fruit flavors (plums, cherries and ripe fleshy fruit) as well as a smoothing agent.
- Cabernet Franc comes to the mix bringing additional smoothness. But along with that, it adds another dimension—earthiness. Cabernet Franc will be low or moderate in tannins and more fruit flavors arrive with it: red berries, blue berries and red plum fruit.
- Think of Malbec as adding the artist’s touch to a bottle of Bordeaux; it’s used for its dark, rich color. Along with the deep hues, it brings some red plum, earthiness and spice notes. Malbec is low in tannins with a medium intensity.
- Finally, there’s the small yet mighty Petit Verdot. Like some seasonings, a little goes a long way. When used, it adds structure and body with its moderate acidity and moderate tannins. Earth flavors, dark berries and spice can show up with this one.
The first two grapes are the main players in a Bordeaux blend. The Right Bank (relative to the region’s Gironde River) is world-renowned for its rich Merlot-based blends; the Left Bank for its Cabernet Sauvignon blends. Any of the last three grapes are permitted to make an appearances in the assemblage; it’s all about the balance between acidity and tannins. These five noble grapes come together in Bordeaux to produce some of the world’s greatest wines—and these days, also some of the most interesting, food-friendly wines you can bring to the table.
To learn more about our selection of exclusive French wine, stop by your local Heinen’s. Don’t miss this amazing Beef Bourguignon Recipe, that perfectly compliments these terrific wines.