Older wine drinkers have long harbored suspicion of blended wines, preferring individual grapes to be named on labels as indicators of quality. Recent marketing trends have led less-experienced audiences to see blends in less pejorative terms. Indeed, many express a preference for "blends", having concluded that they will always be soft, fruity and easy-drinking. Both perspectives are incorrect, of course, because blending is simply the practice of mixing more than one grape variety. The tangible results of blending depend entirely on what is being blended and for what purpose, so blends can be white or red, sweet or dry, cheap or pricey. The only reason we view blends as a category is that the European tradition of naming wines by region has fallen from fashion. Take this dry, lightweight white from Tuscany, for example. It combines two famous French grapes — chardonnay and sauvignon blanc — with a third local variety called grechetto. The result is deliciously individual — brisk with quenching flavors of lemon, pear, and cucumber. It doesn't fit into the chardonnay box or the sauvignon blanc box, but does taste recognizably Italian — and that's precisely the point of the old system, which lets it be its unusual self as a "Toscana Bianco" instead of trying to pin its flavors to a grape or labeling it as a "blend."
Carpineto "Dogajolo" Toscana Bianco, Tuscany, Italy. $12.99 (regularly $14.99; sale price through May 28). PLCB Item #3524.