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Byington Alliage - Red Meritage 1998

Bordeaux Red Blends from Sonoma County, California
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    Winemaker Notes

    "Alliage" is a French word meaning "alloy." Just as a purposeful blending of metals produces an alloy that is greater than the sum of its parts, so does an intelligent mixture of wines create a blend that is superior to each of its individual components. The 1998 Byington Alliage, an amalgam of Sonoma County Bordeaux wine grapes, is a wine that goes beyond one-dimensional varietal character to optimize each element's contribution to the whole.

    Winemaker Don Blackburn is pursuing something other than just complexity or varietal intensity. Complexity alone can result in a cacophony of flavors, aromas and textures that seek to impress by their sheer number alone. He believes that subtlety, on the other hand, occurs when intensity and complexity are in balance with all the wine's components.

    The 1998 Alliage is a blend of Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. In keeping with the belief that the finest wines are often an "alloy" of individual elements, the exact structure of Alliage will vary with each vintage to reflect the Alliage goal: " To create a wine of ineffable organoleptic quality that palpably transcends single varietal character."

    Critical Acclaim

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    Byington

    Byington Vineyards & Winery

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    Byington Vineyards & Winery, Sonoma County, California
    Founded in 1989 by Bill Byington, a wine collector and business entrepreneur, the 95-acre Byington estate lies at an elevation of 2000 feet overlooking several acres of vineyards, forest and the spectacular Monterey Bay. The winery specializes in the creation of Chardonnay and red Bordeaux-style wines. Wines are distinguished by complexity as they transition into subtlety. The heirarchy of importance is mouth-feel first and aroma second.

    Sonoma County

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    Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa Valley, the region only produces about half the amount of wine but boasts both tremendous quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.

    Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.

    Bordeaux Blends

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    One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

    In the Glass

    Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

    Perfect Pairings

    Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.

    Sommelier Secret

    While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.

    VWD320050_1998 Item# 27847