American wines are loved for their bold, fruit-forward flavors. French wines are cherished for their more reserved elegance. So why not combine the best of both worlds? No one has dared to break down the nation-locked boundaries of winemaking — until Maiden + Liberty Wines. We sat down with co-founder James Medwick to get a closer look at the world’s first Franco-American wine blend.
First things first: how could the proud French be convinced to blend their national treasure with ripe, fruit-forward, American wine? As the old adage goes, love overcomes all obstacles. It took an American man marrying a French woman to break centuries of winemaking tradition. As a native New Yorker, James worked to source the American side of the blend, partnering with Long Island winemakers. His French wife and co-founder Alexandra, whose family works for the renowned Mas de Daumas Gassac line of wines, naturally turned to winemakers from her native Languedoc-Roussillon.
Next: What goes into a Franco-American blend? “I design the blend based on varietals that grow well in each region,” says James. “For example, I would never blend Zinfandel from Long Island, because that varietal historically doesn’t perform well there.” For their inaugural red blend, James selected varietals that grew well in each area — structured Syrah and Grenache from Languedoc-Roussillon, softened by more fruit-forward Cabernet and Merlot from Long Island. For their white wine, James selected Long Island Chardonnay and Viognier for stone fruit aromas, and blended French Vermentino and Macabeu for crisp floral notes. What’s interesting is the wonderful balance of tannin, texture, fruit, and aromatics these wines are able to achieve. Perhaps blending across countries has its benefits!
And where can we find a bottle of these groundbreaking wines? Currently, online is your best bet. For an in-store or restaurant purchase, the wines are available only in New York at the moment. “We want to expand to the west coast eventually; we’re still very young,” says James. “We’re starting small and working to expand, first throughout the larger East Coast, and then to the West Coast.”
Final question: What’s next for Maiden + Liberty? How about a Cali-Bordeaux, or (dare we dream it) an Oregundy? “We have thoughts of doing other blends, both across the U.S. and France and also within France,” says James. So while we can’t promise any fantastical wine blends on market within the next year, we can certainly look forward to more innovation soon.
Visit maidenandliberty.com to learn more about the wine brand proving that the best of each terroir can be fused into one amazing wine.