The growing appeal of field blend wines

When I was thinking about what wines would be on the hottest of trends for 2023, I must admit that I didn’t know of the field blends among them. I’ve been interested in them for several years; however, this summer, they appear to have made it to the forefront. They’ve appeared in a few supermarkets (as well as the less appealing Banrock Station Wild Lands line from Co-op). Co-op).

What is a field blend, and what is the difference from other combinations? Its definition is the wine produced from the vineyard in which different varieties of grapes are planted randomly, not in blocks of just one. It’s how things were done in the past and functions much like a meadow of wildflowers. There’s a romantic aspect of that; however, winemakers nowadays tend to be aware of the grapes they’re selecting. The term can also be applied to the grapes that are picked and fermented simultaneously and result in some wines being underripe while others are riper. This often adds a freshness to wines (field blends aren’t typically excessively alcoholic). Combinations, however, are made mostly from grapes that are harvested and vinified in separate batches and vinified separately, which gives greater consistency but also less of a wild, thrilling experience.

Certain countries specialize in field blends. In Austria For instance Vienna is one of them. Vienna is home to its very own mix, named the Wiener Gemischter Satz, which is featured in the Slow Food Foundation’s Ark of Taste, which showcases small-scale, high-quality items from around the world. There is a number within Portugal’s Douro Valley, too, as well as in Spain, which is where two of my choices today are from. In the world of news, Australia has fallen in love with this wine as well, and perhaps more surprisingly, there are some from the UK and even in Wales. Check out this Mountain People Wine Rose 2021 in my choice, which is just 8 percent and made of eight grape varieties.

If you’re not happy with the price, there’s a reason why they’re priced high. True field vineyards, typically cultivated with old vines, are scarce and ineffective, much the same way that the old apple orchards were; consequently, the producers, who are generally small-scale, small-schedule just a handful of bottles a year.

It’s such an appealing concept, however, that I suspect we’ll see a lot more of them in coming years, so be prepared for what we should perhaps dub “field-washing,” the field blend equivalent of greenwashing in which grapes are picked from different vineyards, and then pressed in roughly the same order.

If you’re not, keep an eye out for the real deal, especially during this time of year, because they’re incredibly refreshing and light. They’re available in many natural wine bars, too.

Six field blends that dig up.

Enjoy The Difference Discovery Collection South African Field Blend PS10, available at Sainsbury’s stores (not on the internet), 13.5%. A riot of apples, fresh pineapple, pear, and fresh apples from Paarl. Fantastically fruity and vibrant.

Los Tontos Sabios Red Field Blend 2021 PS8.99 Waitrose, 13.5%. A deliciously juicy, gulpable, natural Spanish red. Ideal for barbecues.

Como Lo Haria Mi Abuelo 2020 PS14.95 Ultracomida, 14%. I bet you’ve never had such a rioja before. A brightly fruity red “like my grandfather used to make.”

Zahel, Wiener Gemischter Satz 2021 PS17.75 Good Wine Shop, 12.5%. The classic Viennese mix of fields: soft, lovely, beautiful, and floral. Very summery.

Larry Cherubino Laissez Faire Field Blend 2022 PS17.95, PS19.99 (or PS18.95 if you buy six) Cambridge Wine Merchants, 12.5%. A sultry yet not overwhelmingly aromatic Australian blend consisting of Gewurztraminer, pinot blanc, and riesling. It also has pinot grigio and sauvignon gris aged within the older French oak barriques that give the wine a slight smoky note. Natural borderline (Cherubino has a low amount of sulfur); however, it is clean and fresh.

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