Includes an explanation of co-fermentation.
80% Shiraz, 15% Mourvèdre and 5% Viognier from Paarl, South Africa.
SRP of $40 and available internationally for as low as $28(US). Sample received courtesy DGB for review purposes. This wine is just gaining distribution in the U.S. so it might be hard to find currently.
From the bottle:
"Handpicked from the best vineyard sites with individualistic expressions of Shiraz Mourvèdre and Viognier. As a tribute to the Bernard's audacious nature all three grape varieties are harvested, then crushed and fermented together and matured in small French oak barrels. These barrels form a focal point of making this wine, creating the perfect environment for the three varietals to marry and give life from an early age to a synergy of graceful violets and winter spice aromatics supported by powerful black berry fruit flavours.
The vast majority of blended wines are blended after each individual grape variety has been harvested, crushed and fermented separately. This makes a lot of sense as it gives the winemaker much more control over the process and allows them to try different combinations to get the optimal blend. This is not the only way to do it however. Some wines, like today's, take different grapes and harvest, crush and ferment them together, a process called co-fermentation. This is risky business as each variety has different needs during fermentation and controlling the makeup of the blend is much more difficult. So why do it?
The answer is pretty simple. Imagine you're making a stew and you prepare and cook each the ingredient separately and then combine them together right before serving. We all know that this will taste much different than letting all the ingredients cook together for hours, drawing out flavors from each other and combining to make something much better than the sum of the parts. (Not to say that these wines are always better, but they are different.) It's the same with wine and today's wine is the perfect example.
In addition, today's wine is also interesting in that it combines two red grapes (Shiraz and Mourvèdre) with a small amount of a white grape (Viognier). The result is simply fantastic. And one last thing before we get to the review, this wine is really a perfect example of the reason for our Saturday Splurge series. You will be hard-pressed to find many blends that are harvested, crushed and co-fermented for under $20. In today's hugely competitive wine market there's just too much risk and uncertainty involved for the winemaker.
The 2009 Bellingham The Bernard Series Small Barrel SMV begins with truly wonderful aromas of blackberry, vanilla, spice and violet. The wine tastes simply marvelous with a perfect combination of sweet blackberry, dusty tannins and spice. The succulent spice intensifies on the dry finish while the sweet fruit continues and ends with lingering dark chocolate notes that last for quite awhile. You're going to have trouble not finishing off this bottle when you open it but if you have the willpower it will taste just as good on day 2.
See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.