A tapestry of red blend flavours


The story of red blends is an ever-evolving tapestry.

This wine segment is not as easy to define as Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, describing its origins and flavours. Trying to quantify it would be like trying to nail down mercury: it is sometimes easier to pinpoint what something is not, rather than what it is, which is why South Africa has traditionally separated the red blend field into Bordeaux-style and non-Bordeaux. But even that presents its own challenges.

Bordeaux blends

The Bordeaux bit is easy; it is a red wine made by blending wines from the grapes traditionally grown in Bordeaux, France. So, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot – either all of them, or just two, three or four in varying proportions. Complicating things in South Africa, is that even if there are just two elements in the wine, if one is at least 85%, the producer doesn’t have to call it a blend.

According to local wine legislation, at 85%, one grape is dominant enough to be identified as a single variety. For example, a wine containing 87% Cabernet Sauvignon and perhaps 13% Merlot is strictly speaking a blend – but there is enough Cab for the wine to be labelled as a ‘pure’ Cabernet Sauvignon.

Non-Bordeaux blends

Rhône blends are those in which Shiraz holds sway, supported by Mourvèdre and Grenache and even Viognier, all grapes from the French Rhône region. But what about the non-Bordeaux red blend category? It is as wide open as the proverbial barn door. It could be any of the usual Bordeaux grapes with the addition of Pinotage, Shiraz, Grenache, or a range of different red grapes.

Exceptional red blends on Vinotèque

Our carefully selected portfolio includes some of South Africa’s most distinctive red wines, including Italian blendsSpanish blendsRhone blends, and Bordeaux blends from award-winning wine producers like NederburgDurbanville HillsFleur du Cap, and Zonnebloem.