Meritage Roundtable: Tips on Making Bordeaux-Style Blends in the New World

The name Meritage is a blend of the words merit and heritage (and pronounced to rhyme with the latter). But beyond a commitment to using the same grapes as those used in the great wines of Bordeaux, making a Meritage blend is mostly a matter of a winemaker’s own tastes and preferences. Like most things in winemaking, bring four winemakers together and you’ll get four different opinions. Which is exactly what we’ve done here. We asked four commercial winemakers the same series of questions about making a red Meritage, and while there was one universal theme of letting the grapes determine your choices, by and large there were a lot of different thoughts on how to make a great Meritage wine. The “ingredients” are the same – the six grape varieties that are used to make the wine (as agreed upon by the Meritage Alliance): Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenère. The variations are endless. Meritage Roundtable Winemakers Mark Topel of Topel Winery in Hopland, California, in the Mendocino AVA. Topel and his wife Donnis have