I Made a Meritage

>Meritage: An invented term, used by California wineries, for Bordeaux-style red and white blended wines. Combines “merit” with “heritage.” The term arose out of the need to name wines that didn’t meet minimal labeling requirements for varietals (i.e., 75 percent of the named grape variety). For reds, the grapes allowed are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec; for whites, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.


Ok, maybe not exactly a Meritage, but it was my own version of it.

I decided for TDay to get a bottle or two from the “old stock”. One of them was a ’77 Fetzer Cab. Once I got it opened filtered and decanted, I gave it a try. It was a bit flat. So I let sit a bit more to see if it would wake up, but it wasn’t. At least not really.

Also opened was a bottle of Sutter Home Zin. Not the greatest but it would work for my purposes here. I added about a third of a bottle of that Zin to my Fetzer Cab. Gave it a good stir (which also helped it to breathe a bit) and tasted it.

I’m not a huge fan of any Sutter Home wines if I’m honest. They have a taste like they were bottled next to the grape juice line or aged in a cardboard box. Not the greatest to be sure. Until it was added to that Fetzer.

It popped right away after that. Much like adding a pinch of salt to your tomatoes. It was spicy, oaky and just a bit of berry. It very much tasted like a Fetzer Cab.

I am definitely going to try this again, but use something better as my mix-in. Perhaps a newer vintage of the same wine? Maybe a nice old vine zin? I’m sure the results will be just as awesome.

By Don

Lead bottle washer at donburnside.com, host at whiteroofradio.com and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.


  1. Lots of readers are probably shaking their heads in disbelief at this, but they don’t realize that winemakers do this type of blending in the privacy of their homes ALL THE TIME, particularly when they have a disappointing bottle or just for experimentation. Go for it!

  2. wow, i would have never thought to do that. what’s the most any of your readers have spent for a bottle of wine from the store (not a restaurant)? I think my cap is around $15….sad, but true.

  3. Mine is $40, but that’s only if I’m buying a Chard (I’m a fan of Rodney Strong Chalkhill). Usually I try to stay under $20.

    As for blending, I would try this with current vintage wines. Maybe you find a merlot that has a good nose but leaves you wanting more on the mouth. Add to that a Cab or Zin you really like to kick it up a notch.

    Whites might be tougher, but I could imagine finding a Pinot Grigo that’s a little flat and adding a real dry Sauvignon Blanc to it.

  4. Most I’ve spent is around $50-$60, for a bottle of Viader, but that was wholesale cost. One of the perks of the job 😉 Normally I spend ten to twenty, but again, those are wholesale prices.

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