For some reason I have always had it in my mind that 100 percent varietal wines should receive more respect than blended wines. Maybe because the varietal name appears on the label as opposed to red or white blend. Or maybe it’s because, from a non-winemaker’s point of view, it appears varietal wines are more challenging to make because the winemaker has fewer ingredients with which to create a balanced, complex wine.
But there is no varietal wine versus blended wine competition anywhere other than in my mind. I need adjust my mindset and this Chalk Hill Estate Red is the perfect wine to help me in that endeavor. We received this wine as a tasting sample.
2016 Chalk Hill Estate Red, Chalk Hill, Sonoma County — dense ruby in the glass with a bright rim. Aromas of red currants, black cherries, cedar and dried herbs are generous. Complex flavors of boysenberries, red cherries, mocha, leather, cedar and dried herbs that are almost minty. Tannins are grippy and the body is medium with bright acidity. The finish is very long. 15.2% abv. SRP $70
The blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Malbec, 9% Petit Verdot, 7% Merlot was harvested between September 30 and October 23, 2016. The average yield per acre was only 2.6 tons. Fermentation took place in stainless steel with pump overs. The wine went through 100% malolactic fermentation and was aged in French oak, 55% new, for 20 months.
There is no denying this is a big, dense, red wine, but it is absolutely delicious. The primarily red fruit flavors are bright and lively with just a hint of dried herbs. The cedar and mocha notes are so appealing. The alcohol is on the high side, but it doesn’t taste so. Decant before serving. This is a special-occasion wine to pair with braised short ribs or grilled lamb chops.
Thanks to Calhoun & Company Communications for providing the opportunity to challenge my assumptions about blended wines.