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What Is a Meritage Wine?

What Is a Meritage Wine?

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– C.S., Reno, NV

The term Meritage, which rhymes with heritage, is a designation for wines with a blend of two or more grape varietals. The U.S. government law states that in order for a wine to call itself by only one varietal such as Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon, there must be at least 75 percent of the named grape varietal used in the wine. That means that 25 percent can be other grapes that the winemaker needs or wants to use to achieve the product taste profile that he or she desires.

When a winemaker uses less than 75 percent of one grape, it is called a Meritage wine.These wines are generally the winemakers' artistic expression of the very best blend he or she can make. It allows for creativity, diversity and some very delicious wines. Yes, some can be pricey, but it is usually because there is a limited amount of the blend which makes them extra special. Most all of the red wines produced in the Bordeaux region of France are blends of five red grapes; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. They do not call these Meritage, instead they are called Bordeaux red wine.

The Cain 5 is a popular Meritage from Napa Valley which uses all five of the Bordeaux grape varieties. Some other well-known and loved Meritage wines are Dominus, Insignia, Opus One and The Poet. Many of these wineries make white wine blends as well. One of the most popular white blends is made at Caymus and is called Conundrum. It is a blend of five white grape varietals and it is delicious. Most of the wineries make a Meritage wine, so be sure to ask your wine retailer which ones they have in stock.

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