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« Simple Sal(entino) | Main | Superquick Takes: the Whites »

18 January 2005

The Heritage of Meritage

Meritage: You've probably seen this term on American wine labels. And if you're like 99% of the wine drinking population, you've been saying "mer-it-AHJ". After all, it looks like a French word, right? WRONG. It's actually an American word, stemming from the words "merit" and "heritage", and rhyming with the latter: "MER-it-idge".

So now that you can say it, what does it mean? Meritage is a term created by American vintners in the 1980's that basically means "Bordeaux blend". A red meritage is a blend of any of the five red grapes allowed in the Bordeaux region of France (cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, malbec, and petit verdot), while a white meritage is a blend of any of the three white grapes allowed (sauvignon blanc, semillon, and muscadelle). Only wineries who have paid to join the Meritage Association are legally allowed to use the term on their labels. You can read all sorts of stuff about it at www.meritagewine.org.

One thing to remember is that not all American Bordeaux blends will say meritage on the label - either the winery has chosen not to join the Meritage Association, or it has decided to use a cool proprietary name instead. Great wines like Justin Isosceles and Trefethen Double T Red are Bordeaux blends, but neither one uses the word meritage. Whatever you do, don't become a meritage snob and drink only wines with the "m-word".  However, if you are compelled to try a true meritage, take one of these home and pop the cork:

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Heritage of Meritage:

» You Say Tomato...I Say Tomato from LENNDEVOURS
Beau at BasicJuice beat me to the punch with a nice post on the pronunciation of Meritage. I was just thinking this morning that it was about time I got around to writing about this very topic. Long Island makes [Read More]

» You Say TomaYto...I Say TomaHto from LENNDEVOURS
Beau at BasicJuice beat me to the punch with a nice post on the pronunciation of Meritage. I was just thinking this morning that it was about time I got around to writing about this very topic. Long Island makes [Read More]

» Juice Review Round-up - wine tasting notes from Vivi's Wine Journal
Each week we'll post the wine tasting notes that we've read. Collectively, the blogs of the world represent a little less "high and mighty" and more of an approachable view of wines they've tasted. In fact, they often rebuke "the [Read More]

Comments

Lenn

Thanks for this post...even if you stole a bit of my thunder (I was writing up a similar piece!).

I will say, however, that most of the winemakers and tasting room personnel I talk to do pronounce in correctly...some are even very, shall we say, enthusiastic about people who say it incorrectly.

There is definitely a meritage trend here on Long Island...or more accurately a "Bordeaux blend" movment. Most of the better wineries are producing them now...and while some are insanely priced, some are quite good.

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John Morris

Thank you very good and a healthy writing. I will definitely keep track of posts and the occasional visit. Looking forward to reading your next post.

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