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When to blend wine: the big debate

Timing is everything – and never more so than when it comes to blending wines. So how do winemakers decide when to do it? And is it better to blend early or later in the winemaking process? Stephen Brook reports

Tasting the difference: early, progressive and late blended wines to try today

Early blends

Château Figeac, St-Emilion, Bordeaux, France 2010
19/20pts (96/100pts)
Rich oaky nose, scented with black cherries, blackcurrants and mint. Dense and concentrated, with hefty but ripe tannins; spicy and complex, showing delightful freshness and balance, with superb ageing potential. Very good length.
Price: £178 Harrods, R&B Wines
Drink 2015-2030
Alc 14%

Domaine Dujac, Aux Malconsorts 1er Cru, Vosne-Romanée, Burgundy, France 2009
18.5/20pts (95/100pts)
Bright red fruits nose, with a slight waxy vanilla tone. Concentrated and quite rich, with firm tannins and considerable complexity and grip. This shows great weight of fruit and breadth, and admirable length.
Price: POA Justerini & Brooks
Drink 2015-2030
Alc 13%

Château Haut-Bages Libéral, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France 2010
18/20pts (93/100pts)
Robust, vibrant blackcurrant nose. Medium-bodied, sleek and stylish on the palate, with pronounced but refined tannins and acidity to refresh the voluptuous fruit. This is an elegant Pauillac: understated, balanced and long.
Price: £40-£42 Christopher Piper, Laithwaite’s, James Nicholson
Drink 2016-2030
Alc 13%

Progressive blends

Château Trotanoy, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France 2008
19/20pts (96/100pts)
Precise and lifted red-fruits nose, bright and elegant. Suave but very concentrated, with lush tannins and a seamless texture. Fine acidity confers great elegance and length.
Price: £117 via UK agent Corney & Barrow
Drink 2014-2028
Alc 13%

Château Laforge, St-Emilion, Bordeaux, France 2009
17/20pts (89/100pts)
Sumptuous yet fresh mint and black cherry nose. Oaky, tight, and assertive, with fine acidity, judicious oak, and ample drive and persistence.
Price: £55.26 Fine & Rare
Drink 2014-2025
Alc 14.5%

Late blends

Domaine d’Angerville, Clos des Ducs, Volnay 2011
18.5/20pts (95/100pts)
Firm, intense, raspberry nose that is pure and focused. Medium-bodied, sleek and fresh, with sweet tannins, this has intensity and purity rather than weight. Elegant and taut, youthful and long.
Price: £108-£122.40 Armit, Corney & Barrow, Fine & Rare, Nicholls & Perks
Drink 2015-2030
Alc 13%

Beringer, Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2009
17.5/20pts (91/100pts)
Reserved blackberry nose, scented with discreet oak. Svelte but concentrated; very firm tannins give a lot of grip on the mid-palate, and although it lacks some lift, it remains hedonistic, elegant and long.
Price: £64.99 Edgmond Wines
Drink 2016-2030
Alc 14%

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