Red blends have been booming for years now, but white blends have been much slower to catch on. The culprit would seem to be an outdated rule of thumb — that wines that name a single grape on the label, like chardonnay or pinot grigio, are inherently superior to those that do not. There may have been a kernel of truth to this cliché a few decades ago, assuming one considered only American wines. But that situation is changing rapidly in the "new world" and was never true of European wines in the first place. Blending can certainly disguise the use of shoddy ingredients, but it can also be practiced with finer ones and often is. Blending allows winemakers to make the best possible wines by combining multiple grapes with different strengths and weaknesses, which is why so many of the best red wines are Bordeaux-style, Tuscan-style, or Rhône-style blends. Wine drinkers have clearly accepted this obvious truth for red wines, but until it is also embraced on the white side of the aisle, savvy shoppers can still get better mileage for their wine dollars by considering underappreciated white blends over varietal wines. This delightfully affordable white from the Barcelona area is a perfect example. It is made with a blend of the region's top three white grapes, Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada (which are better known as the ingredients of most sparkling Spanish Cava). But its lightweight texture, apple-pear flavors, and dry tangy finish make it a perfect fridge-door "house wine" for fans of pricier whites like Spanish albariño, French Macon-Villages and Italian pinot grigio.
René Barbier Mediterranean White, Catalunya, Spain. $19.99 (regularly $24.99; sale price through Nov. 4). PLCB Item #1592.