What the F*** is a field blend wine?
You've seen this on some of the coolest wines coming from the hottest wineries in the US, a field blend of this grape and that. Blended wines are so hot right now that seeing "field blend" on a label seems to ratchet it up a little bit, like its taking wine blends to the level. So what is a field blend wine?
What is a field blend wine?
Field blend wines are dope! Field blend wines are wines made from grapes that have been grown together, as the name would suggest, in the same field. Vineyards are often interplanted, carrying a mix of grapes that can be wild and varied. Sometimes these are all red wine varieties, sometimes they are all white wine varieties, and sometimes they are a mix of both. That means that a Carignan vine might have a Valdiguie wine growing right next to it, and somewhere in the vineyard may just be a rebellious Trousseau Noir that has been hanging out there for decades. Then hey, what grows together goes together! So the grapes are picked together and after harvest, the grapes from all the different varieties in that vineyard are pressed, fermented, and bottled together into one bodacious wine.
So this is a pretty cool new thing, right?
Yeh, this is seriously cool, but it's not new. European winemakers have been using this method for centuries, in fact, it goes back to the early days of winemaking. In fact, early winemakers were chucking all of their grapes together to make one wine. Today though there is a lot more work, thought and care that goes into field blends. Sometimes it can appear as if the winemaker has no idea what is going into their wine, and on the occasion, you would be right. Sometimes they just can't tell what is in there, but what they are trying to get across is the ultimate expression of terroir, of the place, of the time, right down to the vineyard itself. For some its a shot at mass-produced, industrial wine. For others, it's about bringing together everything that you do in the vineyard.
What makes field blends so awesome?
Field blends are the ultimate mastery of winemaking. You have to have a reasonable idea of what is in your vineyard, what is being grown, and how it all comes together. Or you could be like Thackrey and Company, whose winemaker admits they have no idea what the hell is in their Orion field blend. Though they have been able to identify 11 different varieties to date! The wine grapes come from a field planted in 1902, making them one of California's ultimate old vine wines. As the winemakers take everything in from the vineyard, the different grapes start to sing the tune and express themselves in different ways. It all comes together in an ambrosial symphony. The winemakers, being the conductor from the field to the bottle, have to manage all of the parts to present a wine that is nuanced, balanced, complex, and yet still shake your feelings if even with a sudden boom of a bass drum.
At the end of the day, field blends are some of the sexiest things out there in wine. They are a romantic expression of a time and place, an art that takes great care to envoke great feeling, and a giant middle finger to the industrialized wine business that has taken hold over the world. Field blend wines are exciting, complex, and always offer an unparalleled experience in every bottle. We told you field blends were dope!