A Meritage is usually a blend of red Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot) without any one variety necessarily dominant (the Meritage Association requires that no one variety compose more than 90% of the wine). In America, when we name a wine for a variety such as Cabernet Sauvignon, federal law requires that we use at least 75% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The Meritage designation, an American term, gives the winemaker the freedom to blend the varieties together in the way he prefers, regardless of varietal percentage. It may also be a blend of white Bordeaux varieties-Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon-but it's not common.
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. Joseph Phelps Insignia and Flora Springs Trilogy are examples of wines whose blends vary each year, with no one grape dominating.
A trademark name developed by the Meritage Association to identify blends made from specific Bordeaux varietals. Wineries must be member of the Meritage Association in order to call their Bordeaux varietal blend a Meritage. A red wine must be produced from a blend of two or more of the following varieties to be called a Meritage: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, St. Macaire, Gros Verdot, and Carmenere. No single variety can be more than 90% of the blend. For a white wine Meritage, the wine must have two or more of the following varieties and no single variety can be more than 90% of the blend: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Sauvignon Vert.
A term coined by California wineries, for Bordeaux-style red and white blended wines that often don't meet minimal labeling requirements for varietals. If a winery produces a Meritage wine, it is frequently their most expensive blended dry wine. Examples of wines that fall into this category include Opus One, Phelp's Insignia and Dominus.
Meritage is a word used to distinguish wines that are made in the style of Bordeaux but without infringing on that region's legally protected appellation. Winemakers must license the right to use the trademark "Meritage" for their wines from The Meritage Association.