Do 'Bordeaux Blends' ever include Syrah?

I was checking out Mondavis new Bordeaux Blend named Momentum and noticed it had a breakdown of:
39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 5% Syrah, 3% Malbec, and 3% Petite Verdot

The Syrah struck me as strange. These days I actually avoid any blend of Cab and Syrah.

What say you?

To be called a “Bordeaux Blend,” without being disingenuous, “No.”

Chateau Palmer released recently a so-called “Historical Blend” that was cut with 15% syrah.

Seems to be decently praised on CT, but damn expensive.

Off of CT:

N.V. Château Palmer Historical XIXth Century Blend L.20.04.
In 2004, Château Palmer created an extraordinary new wine, which they called “Historical XIX Century Blend.” This wine is a blend of 85% Bordeaux varieties from Palmer’s vineyards and 15% Syrah from the Rhone, produced as an homage to a wine that might have been released in the 19th century. So here’s the intriguing thing about this rare release. The Bordeaux portion of this blend is Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, 50/50, and are not young vines. They were chosen because winemaker Thomas Duroux felt they would blend best with the Syrah. The result is rich and concentrated, drinking well young and bound to evolve well over the next 15-20 years.

Have not tried it, though. Neither a blend, nor a price point, I seek out (generally).

It’s a homage to the doctoring that the Bordelais used to engage in. So in a sense, Mondavi is unearthing the ugly truth!

ps Robert - it was way too expensive and not really worth the quality, but an interesting wine to drink nonetheless.


Interesting info. I can’t imagine it (calling it Bordeaux blend) too widespread these days.

I see Syrah with my Cab and I head for zee hills, and besides I like ‘Bordeaux Blends’ Cab heavy anywho.


Claret would work. I picked up a Ramey Claret and was about to put it in my basket – until I saw the healthy % of Syrah in the blend. Despite presumed intentions of filling out a wine, I can’t get past the idea that it’s just filler, amid otherwise good stuff.


Why not?

It’s common knowledge that Syrah from (supposedly) Hermitage was used to improve even some of the first growths in the 1800’s, & probably 1700’s.

Europe was recovering from a cold period (the Little Ice Age ~ 1550 - 1850), & they were trying to produce high quality wine.

Wasn’t a recent Margaux vintage “Hermitaged” at Ch. Lascombs (?), or was it for part of the production of another Margaux Chateau? Anyone, Anyone? Bueller, Bueller?

There was even some planted in the Medoc way back in the day. I believe Ch. Latour ripped out the last of theirs around or before 1850.

For myself, I Love the way Syrah complements the more linear (mostly) Bordeaux grape varieties.

Is the question adhering to a strict definition (is preclusion defined?), rather than producing a potentially better wine?

Sounds like this consensus is against this, which is fine. Maybe wines with Bordeaux grape varieties should have a different designation. Personally, I’m fine either way.


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So no Aussie Cab/Shiraz blends for you?

I am sure I have loved some Aussie blends in the past. I would need to look at my notes. Grange comes to mind, right? [cheers.gif]

Mike - no. As a few others have said, they used to blend a bit of Syrah into the wines because Bordeaux isn’t an ideal grape growing place and often the grapes wouldn’t get ripe enough. In fact, it used to say right on the label “Bordeaux-Hermitage”, and of course, Hermitage was also the name for Syrah.

Then in the late 1800s phylloxera wiped out a lot of the vineyards and people scrambled about, looking for other areas and other grapes. When they figured out how to circumvent the bug, they replanted vineyards and of course, everyone wanted to get the most vines in the ground and grab market share before the industry came back. So a lot of crappy wine was produced all over France, and in fact, all over Europe. Then of course, World War I happened and that gave everyone something else to think about.

In the interlude after WW I, everyone was exhausted. They went back to their homes and busied themselves with taking up where they’d left off, industriously attacking the things that really mattered. The Germans decided to re-arm. The French decided to strengthen their wine laws.

As the clouds were darkening over Europe, in the final days before the continent was again plunged into horror, the French produced the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine.

That’s INAO for short.

The curious thing is that the impetus didn’t come from Bordeaux, it came from Chateauneuf du Pape. In any event, the INAO introduced the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (or AOC) rules that do exactly what the name says - they control what you can do to use the name of the place of origin as your label. So they lay out which grapes can be planted, what kinds of yields you can have, whether you can add sugar (quite legal in Bordeaux because of that pesky ripeness issue) and so on.

A lot of regions were given AOC status in 1935 and 36. At that point, perhaps irritated by the mounting set of regulations, the neighbors finally snapped and World War 2 started. Maybe they liked Syrah with their Merlot.

The war took a while to recover from, but things are back on form now. So much so that they’ve decided to replace AOC with AOP, which is kind of the same thing only more of it. Still doesn’t allow Syrah tho. And then you have the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Bordeaux, which is the local group that also regulates quality and makes rules.

So, since 1935, you can’t put Syrah into Bordeaux. Or rather, you can’t put it in and call the resulting wine “Bordeaux”. And that’s what all of us are used to. Because we’re used to it, it’s “traditional”. In the same way, you can’t put anything but Sangiovese in Brunello because that’s “traditional” since the 1970s. Bordeaux having the older rule, I guess they’re more traditional than the good folks in Tuscany. In spite of the fact that there’s a lot more Merlot in Bordeaux than there is Cab Sauv, most people think of the “Bordeaux Blend” as relying primarily on Cab, then Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere.

Personally, I’d say a Bordeaux Blend can’t ever include Syrah, because for most people, that has little to do with Bordeaux and it’s not allowed today. That doesn’t mean I’d object to the wine. I think the goal should be to make good wine, not to follow rules.

Just as an aside, there are a few people planting “non-Bordeaux” grapes as “experimental” grapes. If we have enough global warming, maybe in a few years we’ll even be getting Grenache from the area.


BTW, I think the percentage of Cab Sauv in Grange is miniscule.

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Greg, reading your posts makes me even feel ‘smarter’…
Hope all is well.

Hey - world history according to me.

Sure to offend.

Anyhow we need to get together.

Greg, I like your style. This forum can use a little humor! [snort.gif]

As for cab/syrah, look to Spain, Italy, WA and CA. Bordeaux & Burgundy is too expensive for my pisano tastes. [stirthepothal.gif]

Ok, so I did some research into the 1992 Grange. I have had this no less than 6 times and enjoyed it each time. It even earned me WineOfTheNight 3 times at offlines.
So, it’s 90% Shiraz & 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. I think adding Cab to your Syrah is probably different than adding Syrah to your Cab…
I prefer the former,

Wrong. In California, “Bordeaux Blend” and “Claret” is a proprietary name that does not have any legal requirements in California other than it needs to be on the label since the first vintage and presumably have one or more varietal from Bordeaux as a majority of the blend. Clearly, self regulation is enforced since total abuse of proprietary names would result in the market distrusting producers but I can’t find anything that legally binds them to adhere to the AOC qualifications of a “Bordeaux Blend.” California law allows up to 15% of other varietals to be added to any varietal named wine. Hence why Robert Foley makes a “Claret” of 100% Cabernet because he plans to blend other varieties once they mature in the vineyard. Meritage is another story, wine makers have to pay to put that on their label and are part of an “association” and adhere to requirements. neener

It’s not a Bordeaux Blend, but Guado al Tasso can be pretty tasty and it’s mostly Cab/Merlot with a splash of Syrah.

This reads like a Ken Follet novel, and I mean that in a good way! My POTY (post of the year) so far. flirtysmile

Thanks, and Cheers,


I just wanna know if it’s “California Grand Cru” - now that would be meaningful :wink:

Hysterical. [welldone.gif]

Plus, really good information and interesting post to read. Thanks.