Amy De Vine's weekly wine class: It's all in the blend

Learn a little more about what makes a wine worth drinking. Each week Amy highlights a grape variety, wine characteristic, or a special factor that goes to make a good glassful.This week: chardonnay/semillon – an unusual blend


Blending grape varieties sometimes makes better wine, for example by improving the way a wine ages or helping to keep a consistent flavour.

In New World wines we usually expect to see cabernet sauvignon all by itself on the label, whereas in its historic home, Bordeaux, that red grape is almost always combined with merlot, and often some cabernet franc or petit verdot to make claret, the region’s great red wine.

Likewise for the white grapes of Bordeaux, where sauvignon blanc is married to semillon, both to make the great sweet wines as well as the (often terrific) lesser known dry whites.

This is traditional Old World blending. Another use of blending is to be creative. The New World is the place for stylish innovation – winemakers there are restricted neither by tradition nor by the grape police. This week’s top bottle is a blend you would never see in France: the fresh, lively Warra Bay Chardonnay/Semillon from South Eastern Australia (Asda, around £8 as a guide price).

It combines the characteristic lime zest and honeysuckle scent of the semillon grape with chardonnay’s dinner-friendly dryness and a taste – verging on the intense – of peaches and melons that is all its own. Lovely with grilled chicken or fish.


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