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New Blending Makes for the Perfect Mix

By: Fred Tasker

"It used to be that when winemakers blended two or more grapes into a wine, it was so the strengths of one could make up for the weaknesses of the others. France's Bordeaux red had cabernet sauvignon for flavor and structure, malbec for its inky color, merlot for sweet and fleshy fruit.

In Italy, the original 1850s recipe for Chianti had red sangiovese and canaiolo grapes softened with a bit of malvasia bianca, a white grape. Cynics said it was because wine was kept poorly in those days, and as the white malvasia darkened with oxidation, it made up for the increasing paleness of the equally oxidizing red grapes. No longer. With modern clonal vine selection, pruning, computerized fermentation and such, cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese and other grapes can make perfectly superb wines all by themselves. So when winemakers blend — and blend they still do, in spades — it's to see what wondrous new flavors they can create.

In other words, they're stroking their egos. It must be fun to be a winemaker. Still, we're the beneficiaries, so who's complaining? Here are some tasty red blends to illustrate the point:

Highly recommended:
-- 2010 Big House Red, Big House Winery, California: Created by mad wine genius Randall Grahm, it now is overseen by winemaker Georgetta Dane. She calls herself the warden, since the winery gets its name from its proximity to the Soledad State Correctional Facility. Given this eccentricity, it's no surprise that the wine is an out-of-control blend of petite sirah, tempranillo, syrah, grenache, malbec, mourvedre, nebbiolo, tannat, souzao, aglianico, barbera, zinfandel, petite verdot, cabernet franc, charbono, nero d'Avola, sangiovese, sagrantino and "other esoteric reds." It's soft, dark and full of powerful dark berry flavors and spice. At $10 a bottle, it's not even a dollar per grape."

Lovely reasonably priced whites… from the Big House

By: Robin Gagnon

"I was on a red wine kick, until recently. Zin to be exact, but I have been re-branching out, and thanks to a shipment from Big House Wine Company, I am having a lovely glass of blended white right now. Whites need some acid, but often they have too much for my taste. Both of the white wines I tried from Big House, had a nice balance of acid.

The glass of Big House White I am currently sipping. It would be a wonderful accompaniment to seafood. Able to cut through butter reasonably well, but not overpower delicate seafood flavors. At first impression, this non-traditional blended white had a fresh clean nose, which held throughout drinking. Sipping brought a buttery start on the tongue, but overall a fresh citrus/apricot flavor, enough acid to gently cut buttery seafood or cream sauces, but still fruity and fun.

Yesterday, I tried the Birdman Pinot Grigio, from Big House Wines. I never put much thought into Pinot Grigio until the last two I’ve tried. Most were disappointing. This one welcomed me with a burst of fresh ripe pear … oh yeah (my daughter is addicted to Red Anjou pears, so I know the scent & flavor well). I also picked up a bit of vanilla & faint flora. With time, banana appeared in the nose, and citrus was prominent on the tongue… sort of grapefruit, but not quite as tart. I enjoyed it with vegetable lo mein, last night and a few bites of my daughter’s ramen noodles tonight… so it certainly has the Asian noodle category covered.

At $10 a bottle, and $22 for a 3 liter box, these are great buy and will both be going on my short (but growing) “buy list”.

Review: Big House White Wine

By: Lisa Weidknecht

"I always said I wanted to avoid the big house, but that was before I met Big House Wines. There is something very captivating about this wine! The blend of different fruits is amazing. I can taste grapes, apricots, and peaches. Maybe even some tropical fruit. The aroma of the wine is kind of flowery, and I thought that was just okay, but the taste of it is fabulous.

It's light and semi-sweet, not dry at all. It's a perfect luncheon wine on the patio with friends (or should I say "in the yard with all your peeps"). This one is a 2010 California wine and I rocked it with my fettuccine Alfredo for dinner this weekend. I usually prefer red over white wines, but this Big House White is delicious!

If this bottle of white wine lasts past the weekend, I'm going to try it with a fish and rice dinner. I bet it would be awesome with a grilled chicken and almond salad too. You can get this smooth taste online and follow Big House Wines on Facebook and Twitter."

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