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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Grenache Tasting

Actually it was Grenache and Grenache blends as you often see it blended with other Rhone grapes such as Syrah.  In California Grenache has been grown in the hot Central Valley to make jug wines.With the help of the Rhone Rangers grapes like Grenache, Mouvedre, Carignane, and Syrah are becoming more popular as premium wines in the U.S.  Grenache is usually characterized as berry fruit-flavored, spicy and soft (low acids).

On September 23rd William Allen hosted a Grenache tasting at his farm. The tasters rated their top wines and he'll post the overall results on his blog, Simple Hedonisms.
Evening sun at the tasting venue
These were mostly local producers, but not all. The production of the wines is small ranging from less than 1,000 cases down to about 50.  A couple of the guys pouring even said the grapes were crushed by foot.  I was trying not to picture this being done by their feet but by some 18 year old Italian maidens.

Following are my personal results listed from my favorites to least:

Mounts Family 2008 Dry Creek Estate Grenache (Grenache/Syrah).  Good fruit, just a bit of spice and tannins. $30

Sheldon 2005 Santa Ynez Vly Vinolocity (Grenache/Syrah). Very good fruit and spices with a near perfect balance on this aged wine. $30

Mounts Family 2008 Dry Creek Estate "The Terraces" Grenache  (Grenache/Mourvedre). Amazing black fruit, not ready yet, but should be a great wine. $40

Baiocchi 2009 Fairplay, El Dorado Entre Nous (Grenache/Syrah). Great peppery spicy up front. Full-bodied and heavy--must be the Syrah in the blend. $39

R2 2009 Santa Ynez Vly Rhapsody (Grenache/Carignane/Syrah/Mourvedre).  Great red fruit but still young and tannic. This will be a very good wine. And I forgot to ask if they made a D2 wine (get it -- R2 D2). A bargain at $24.

Thumbprint 2008 Ramazzotti Vyds, Dry Creek Vly Grenache (100%). Good structure, oak, spicy finish, a bit of heat. Needs to age. $36

Mounts Family 2009 Dry Creek Vly Estate Grenache (Grenache/Syrah). Cool blue fruit, mouth drying, not ready yet. $30

Sheldon 2007 Santa Ynez Vly Grenache (100%) Very good fruit, big finish, bit drying. A great deal at $25.

Quivira 2008 Dry Creek Vly Elusive (Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre/Petite Sirah). Big, tart, spicy. $28

Sheldon 2003 Santa Ynez Vly Vinolocity (Grenach//Syrah). Bit drying, good acid. $30

Ridge 2005 Dry Creek Vly Lytton Estate Grenache (Grenache/Petite Sirah/Zinfandel), Big, drying, more like a Petite Sirah. $28

Ridge 2007 Dry Creek Vly Lytton Estate Syrah / Grenache. Medium spices and tannins.  Needs time. $30

Quivira 2009 Dry Creek Vly Grenache (Grenache/Mourvedre/Syrah). Tart. $26

Stage Left Cellars 2006 Santa Maria Vly Grenache (Grenache/Mourvedre). $48

Wind Gap 2008 California Rana (Grenache/Mourvedre/Syrah). $45

Wind Gap 2009 North Coast Orra (Grenache/Mourvedre/Counoise). $28

It was a lot of fun trying these as I'm not too familiar with Grenache-based wines and not too familiar with many of these wineries. The first two, the Mounts Family and Sheldon stood above the rest, the R2 stood out as the best bargain.

Just to prove you should never rely on one person's opinion on wine my wife was along and her three favorites were the Thumbprint, the '05 Sheldon, then the R2.