I swore it wouldn't happen. I crossed my heart, hoped to die, stuck a needle in my eye .
But, somehow it did. Despite my attempt to get off all industry boards some years ago, I'm back on and in a big way. But now it's for an organization that is very much a part our winery's red wine philosophy. Let me introduce you to the new Chairman of the Meritage Association. (It sounds like a big honor, but truth be told, there just weren't any other suckers willing to step up!)
So, try as I might, I just couldn't say no.
If you're new to the term, Meritage is the name used for categorizing hand-crafted blends made from traditional grape varieties grown in Bordeaux, France. If it's a red wine (which most are) that means the wine is comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot or Malbec. For a white wine, the blend must include Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Sauvignon Vert, but these are few and far between. Most are red wine blends.
A group of vintners selected the name 20 years ago in an attempt to give a distinctive classification to this category of wines. Was it necessary? You bet, as the TTB (formerly known as the BATF or Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) requires wines that are less than 75% of any given variety, be named simply, TABLE WINE. Not the most glamorous or descriptive of terms, particularly considering some of the world's finest wines are blends of the traditional Bordeaux grape varieties. And, they do not necessarily adhere to the 75% rule.
Now, we're regrouping and trying to come up with a new plan for the next 20 years. How can we reach out to new wine lovers? How can we best serve our winery members, who make and sell Meritage wines? And what, if anything, should we do to promote these incredibly complex wines that represent a winery's most creative and artistic form of winemaking? With over 200 winery members in six different countries, it's time to rethink our mission and redirect our efforts. The art of blending is here to stay, and Meritage wines are at the forefront of this movement.
If any of you have a suggestion, I'd LOVE to hear. I promise to pass it on to the Chairman!
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