JWL Issue #043: But what is the field blend?

March 5, 2019

I’ll be taking a one-issue break next week while I’m in Porto, Portugal. If you’ve been before, please hit reply and let me know where I should be heading. We’re there for five nights and want to eat and drink as well as possible. I’ve always found personal recommendations the best approach to new places to visit.

Taste this week is a white wine Majestic special. It was a friends’ 30th this most recent weekend and got to experience a handful of very good affordable whites beforehand.

Learn is all about the ‘field blend’. I’d never heard of this until January of this year and now I’ve seen 5 or 6 in the last two months. It reminds me of the old Nick Hornby quote on churches & betting shops:

“There must be one round the corner. They’re like betting shops, churches, aren’t they? There’s always one round the corner, and you never notice them if you don’t use them.”

Taste

Majestic exclusive Definition Albariño (£11.99 though we drank the magnum, £22.99) is wonderfully textured with vanilla, lemon pith and lemon juice aromas and taste. Brilliant balance for the price point.

I don’t often go for Chablis, I prefer the styles of the more southernly parts of Burgundy. But the Chablis 1er Cru ‘Montmains’ 2016 Vocoret (£22.99) is really forthcoming. A lovely full and round body that was a delight to drink without food as much as it was with.

Another burgundy, the Montagny 1er Cru 'Les Millières’ 2017 Cave des Vignerons de Buxy (£16.99) brings with it lemon and tart apricot. There's almost an element of spice in here that was a totally unexpected perk at the end. 

I’m not a massive sauvignon blanc fan, but the Pouilly Fumé 2017 Les Chants de Cri (£15.99) was a real delight. Its strong minerality and freshness reminded me most of some aligoté I’ve been drinking recently: this was a real steal.

Learn

Field blends are where different grape varieties from the same field, are harvested then fermented at the same time. This means everything is single-vineyard.

Typically, grapes are harvested and fermented at separate times as some grapes take longer to ripen than others. A field blend, therefore, will produce an interesting wine as different characteristics of grapes are picked up.

An extra layer can be where the grapes are fermented together, which is called co-fermentation, not just at the same time.

This all adds up to some interesting wines and what I’d consider a pretty strong expression of terroirs over anything else. It makes for particularly interesting wines in vineyards where there’s multiple varieties that all have different ripening cycles.

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