Wine Words Demystified: Meritage

You know the deal, the more some folks learn about a topic, the more shortcuts/slang/acronyms/initials/technical jargon can be tossed around.  I’m here to help you understand those sometimes mysterious words and phrases, thus – Wine Words Demystified!

This week’s word is meritage (rhymes with heritage)

According to Karen MacNeil‘s The Wine Bible:

 A United States trademarked designation, adopted in 1988 by the Meritage Association for California wines that are a blend of the varieties of grapes used in Bordeaux.  A red Meritage might be made up of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc.  A white Meritage would be a blend of sauvignon blanc and sémillon…Producers may choose to not use the term Meritage even if their wine meets the qualifications.

In other words, it’s a Bordeaux blend without using the term Bordeaux on the label, which would infringe upon the Bordeaux region in France’s legally protected designation of origin.  The word itself is a combination of the words “merit”, and “heritage”.  According to the Meritage Alliance:

A Red Meritage is a blend of two or more of the red “noble” Bordeaux varieties — Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and the rarer St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenère. If the blend includes any other grape variety, it is, by definition, not a Meritage. Also, to qualify as a Meritage, no single grape variety can make up more than 90% of the blend.

To qualify as a White Meritage, a wine must be a blend of at least two of three specific white “noble” varieties — Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or Muscadelle du Bordelais. No single variety can make up more than 90% of the blend. The wine does not qualify as a Meritage if the blend includes any other grape variety.

I’ve not come across any white wines labeled as Meritage in my wine travels.  Have you?


4 Comments Add yours

  1. JeffIsRad says:

    I’ve never seen a white meriatge, though it does make sense that they would exist.
    Time to get on the look out.

    1. Hi Jeff! Let me know if you find one. I’d be interested to know you thoughts about it! Cheers!

  2. I think you are right. This would be great if you found that one.

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