Earlier this week, I announced here that I was now in the business of exploring Meritage wines. You see, it is not abnormal for me to have a run of really good wines that have some commonality and therefore, I explore the heck out of it. It could be region, varietal, or other designation, but right now Meritage seems to have taken the place of my choice wine. Have no fear however, my ‘choice’ changes often so there is no chance that this will become the Meritage blog. Nonetheless, enough of my preamble. Let’s get down to business.
As I explained earlier, the title ‘Meritage’ is applied to wines made in Bordeaux style, but made outside of Bordeaux France. Assigning a name for these non-French wines of this style is a necessity as legally, ‘Bordeaux’ cannot be applied to wines born outside of the designated geography, Bordeaux France.
The History of Meritage
Meritage was born only a few years ago in wine speak, 1988 specifically when a few American vintners came together to form the Meritage Alliance, and interestingly, the name Meritage was the result of a contest that asked lay folk to help in creating a name for this traditionally old world wine style done in the new. According to the Meritage Alliance, the name is a combination of Merit and Heritage, bringing to mind that the wines bearing the Meritage label are of supreme quality and reminiscent of an old world style.
It is important to note that even though the term Meritage is American, these wines of this style can be found in other countries as well.
Red and White Meritage
Though this may take you by surprise, the designateion Meritage can be applied to both red and white wines, as long as they are created using the same grapes found in Bordeaux and a blend of two of the required grapes, with no one grape taking a 90% share of the wines compound, is required. The necessary varietals to form a red Meritage are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Carmenère. White Meritage must consist of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or Muscadelle du Bordelais. Note that if any other grape is added to the blend, the wine can no longer be classed as a Meritage.
What Makes up the Bordeaux Region?
The Bourdeaux wine region is largely centered around the French city of Bourdeaux, and is found in the westerly point of France, midway down the coast line.