Blended Style Wines

Blended wines are simply wines containing more than one variety of grape. Whether a blended wine’s label reflects the varieties in contains is a function of local tradition and sometimes regulation. In Australia, regulation requires labels reflect the wines content. In France such labeling is prohibited. Interestingly, in some circumstances a blended wine may be labeled as a varietal.

Within the European Union, a wine may be labeled as a varietal if it contains at least 85% of that variety. National regulations may set the limit higher in certain cases, but not lower. In the United States, ATF regulations specify a minimum variety content of 75% of the labeled grape. As in Europe, individual states may stipulate a higher, but not lower, standard.

In most of Europe terroir is thought to surpass the impact of variety, so traditionally most European wines have no variety listed on the label at all. In some countries varietal labeling is prohibited by law. For instance Bordeaux wines are labeled as Bordeaux, reflecting the terroir from which they come, and may not be labeled as containing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or any of the other grapes which are found in Bordeaux. Germany is an exception to this approach and has a tradition of varietal labeling. In Germany a varietal wine must contain 100% of the named grape variety.

Varietal labeling is mostly a new world phenomenon. The concept was developed in California after the repeal of Prohibition to encourage growers to choose optimal grape varieties for their wines. It was further promoted in the 1950s and 1960s, ultimately becoming widespread during the new world wine boom of the 1970s and 1980s.