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Five to Try: Field Blend Wines

In the November/December 2021 issue, Jennifer Fiedler explores how American wineries are dabbling more in field-blend wines, a style of winemaking that is common across Europe but not as prominent in the Unites States. Of the category, she writes, “At first glance, field blends are a simple concept: wine made from different varieties of grapes that have been grown on the same plot, harvested, and then co-fermented together. But the conversations surrounding it are anything but, striking at the heart of some of the noisiest discussions in wine, from typicity to terroir, the role of a winemaker, biodiversity, how wine should be labeled, even climate change.”

While bottles can be hard to find, Orenda Hale of Maine & Loire usually has one or two on hand at the shop. In time for the holidays, we asked her for a few recommendations to pair with the flavors of the season. Here, in her own words, are five bottles she suggests seeking out.

Domaine des Rutissons ‘La Bête’ Rouge 2019 (Grapes: Étraire de la Dhui , Gamay, Joubertin, Servanin, Persan) As a Christmas roast family, we’re looking for structure and herbal spice to complement the char, the buttery green beans, and the Yorkshire pudding. This is an incredibly nuanced, extremely curious lip-smacker that transcends the lazy tropes associated with “steak wines.” $30,

Day Wines ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ White 2020 (Grapes: Chardonnay, Vermentino, Muscat) Low in alcohol with skin contact, heady aromatics, and a texture that’s as lush as it is nervy—what more could you ask for as the fifth or sixth bottle of the day with your family?! $30,

Ruth Lewandowski ‘Feints’ Red 2020 (Grapes: Arneis, Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Montepulciano) The expanse of earthy, brown, and gold food that predominates Thanksgiving needs a splash of thirst-quenching juice. Evan Lewandowski has worked magic for the past several years making his iconic “Feints.” The 2020 field blend is made Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, and a pinch of Montepulciano. A full third of the wine is of Arneis, an aromatic white grape that bends the brambles toward fragrant honeysuckle. This is a classic vin de soif; its drinkability is matched by its nuances. $29,

Bernhard Ott, Gemischter Satz 2018 (Grapes: Neuberger, Welschriesling, Chardonnay, Weissburgunder, Grüner Veltliner, Roter Veltliner and Riesling) White wine in skinny, tall bottles seems like a Turkey Day thing. Behold, the apotheosis of “field blends”: the Gemischter Satz! Specifically, Bernhard Ott’s. Translated to English it means, “mixed set” and it is an ancient method of co-planting many varieties to ensure that growers would have some fruit even if a certain variety didn’t do well in any given year. Bernhard’s is a stunner. Clean and slightly creamy with bright acidic corners, it’s perfect as an aperitif or with any manner of dishes, holiday or not. $19.95,

Domaine Yves Duport ‘Céline’ Rouge 2020 (Grapes: Chardonnay, Gamay, Mondeuse) Yves Duport is quickly becoming a favorite in Chardonnay lover circles, but his home, Bugey, is famous for Gamay. He co-ferments those two grapes with some Mondeuse and calls it “Celine”—a light red (or rosé or whatever you want it to be!)—delicious, low in alcohol, and a real crowd-pleaser. Cherries, herbs, and fragrant citrus abound. The tiny bit of Mondeuse in the blend adds structure without sacrificing finesse. It’s a perfect last bottle by the fire or, better yet, grab an extra bottle to have with your leftovers. $18,

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