Meritage is probably one of the most misunderstood and mispronounced words of the wine lexicon. The term Meritage was created by combining the words “Merit” and “Heritage” and is correctly used as a designation for a specific category of wines using the “noble” grapes which have been traditionally blended to create wines in Bordeaux, but outside of the designated French wine region.
Rhymes with heritage, not with garage. Despite the French connection, the word should not be pronounced as if it were a French sounding word. The designation is a registered trademark held by The Meritage Alliance, an American vintners association originally formed in 1988 with the mission of distinguishing high-quality, hand-crafted blends wines from mass-marketed, generic blends.
In order to use the Meritage designation on a label, the wine must be licensed by the Meritage Alliance and conform to its criteria. The winery’s release of Meritage must be limited to less than 25,000 cases.
The art of Meritage is in the blending. A red Meritage must be a blend of two or more of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenère grape varietals. For a white Meritage the blend must consist of at least two of three of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or Muscadelle du Bordelais - sometimes inaccurately referred to as Sauvignon Vert in California.
To qualify as a Meritage, either for red or white, no one variety can make up more than 90% of the blend, and it may not include any other grape variety .
Flora Springs Trilogy (Napa Valley), Dry Creek Meritage (Sonoma), and Trinchero Meritage (Napa Valley) - Three delicious red Meritage wines, each created with a different number and proportion of the permitted grape varietals, each showcasing the art and craftsmanship of blending. (RD)
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