Home California #GrenacheDay: Tasting Central Coast & Sonoma, California Grenache Blanc and Grenache Noir (in varietal and in blend)

#GrenacheDay: Tasting Central Coast & Sonoma, California Grenache Blanc and Grenache Noir (in varietal and in blend)


This previous Friday, September 21 marked International Grenache Day, an occasion celebrated worldwide with tasting parties and events. Though I am a fan of Grenache and Grenache Blanc from multiple locales, this year I chose to focus on California examples.

Following are hand drawn Characteristic Cards for both Grenache Blanc, and Grenache Noir, and tasting descriptions for Central Coast, and Sonoma County wines of both grape types, made as either a varietal bottling, or blend. The descriptions appear in alphabetical order by label.

California Grenache Blanc and Grenache Blanc Blends

click on comic to enlarge


BonnyDoon 2010 Le Cigare Blanc. 55% Roussane, 45% Grenache Blanc. Vibrant citrus blossom and saline nose. Beeswax, lily, dill, salt water palate. Wants age.

Bonny Doon 2010 Le Cigare Blanc Reserve. 56% Roussanne, 44% Grenache Blanc. Ultra juicy, and mineral-driven pushes through the mouth on a citrus textural love fest. How sexy and happy can we get? I am a fan.

Martian Ranch 2011 Grenache Blanc. Crushed Nut, light orange blossom, Meyer lemon zest and blossom, plus dill, with a long nut-candle wax finish. Round mouthfeel, pleasing texture. Well enjoyed.

Tablas Creek 2011 Grenache Blanc. Pit of black olives, salt water, dill, dust and musk. Delicate nose, light flavor presentation. Texturally focused with good mineral dance.

Tablas Creek 2011 Patelin de Tablas Blanc. 45% Grenache Blanc, 34% Viognier, 18% Rousanne, 3% Marsanne. Chamomile that opens to apricot, buckwheat flour and hazelnut skin. Chalky, with beeswax and mineral finish. I want a little more zip here. Curious to try it with age.

Two Shepherds 2011 Grenache Blanc. Creamy bay leaf nose. Palate of peach blossom, and salt water freshness. Dill, integrated pepper and jalapeno skin. Lightly metallic. Makes me want food. I very much enjoy this wine.


California Grenache and Grenache Blends

click on comic to enlarge

Donelan 2010 Cuvee Moriah. 54% Grenache, 26% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah. Well integrated nose and palate presentation of light smoke and rare steak, violets and blue fruit, black and red cherries, light cranberry, pepper. Juicy fruit mouth. Very much enjoy this wine. Good drinking now showing good mouth weight. Will be brilliant in several years.  Can’t wait to age it.

Martian Ranch 2011 Grenache Noir. Pomegranate, sugar snap peas and ultra-fresh green pepper nose. Palate of ripe cherry, plus cherry pit, bramble, dried rose petals and toast finish. Lightly mouth watering, no mouth grip. Interesting presentation of this grape with its cool climate green notes. It struck me as strange at first, but I grew to quite enjoy it.

Ridge 2008 51% Syrah, 49% Grenache. Smoked meat, date, molasses, bay leaf, dirt with just a touch of horse, exotic spice, and a red fruit finish. Each of the Ridge wines are the richest examples in this overall tasting collection.

Ridge 2006 Lytton Estate Grenache with 10% Petite Syrah, 10% Zinfandel. Bay leaf nose. Brazil nut and hazelnut, menthol, concentrated fruit palate, with long finish.

Ridge 2005 Lytton Estate Grenache with 6% Petite Syrah 6% Zinfandel. Nose of rhubarb pie, licorice root, figs, & almond extract. Concentrated fruit, soy, light smoke and integrated pepper. Juicy palate. Long finish of exotic spice and walnut with a pleasing grip. The darkest most date-plus-soy focused of the Ridge wines.

Sheldon 2011 Ceja Vineyard Grenache. Red cherry, herb, pleasing palate offering a textural pull leaning towards drying mouth grip. This wine has good meat-plus-sexy. I enjoy the light body and dance-y flavor presentation of this wine.

Sheldon 2008 Vinlocity Grenache. Starts at the intersection of cherry pit-almond-vanilla spreads into light wintergreen-and-pine. Good structure. Wants age.

Tablas Creek 2010 Cotes De Tablas. 46% Grenache, 39% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 5% Counoise. Tomato seed, fig, and wheat plant. Pungent berry high notes, carrying a devil musk and his leather jacket from forest fog. Wants age.

Tablas Creek 2010 Grenache. Weighty wild red berry, pepper, wet leather and wet earth, plus spice. Nice mouth grab with pleasing acidic, mineral zip. Like the texture and freshness here.

Two Shepherds 2010 GSM. 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre. Cold red berries and flowers, light smoke, meat, violets and just the right amount of wet mud. Vibrant, only lightly bloody (a little blood here is pleasing), herbal, and freshly green. Earthy, with hints of leather, and a fresh mouth grip.


Thank you to Bonny Doon, Tablas Creek, and Donelan for the wine samples. Ridge, Two Shepherds, and Sheldon Wines were tasted at the Rhone Rangers North Coast Chapter Grenache Day event.

Copyright 2012 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com. WakawakaWineReviews–accept no substitute.


      • We can fix this via plug-ins. Now that you are on an open standard, there are a bazillion add-ons we can add. Can see examples on my blog which is wordpress.org self hosted.

  1. Outstanding, fascinating, and perfect, as always! I’ve waxed ad naseum that if one wine blogs, one should do something that maximizes the singularities that the platform offers. Put another way, and to borrow Mencken on Tolstoy; Unless you’re RJOnWine (writing point scores, that is) we don’t need you. You, we need. Deep bows for your wonderful work!


    Christopher Watkins
    Retail Sales & Hospitality Manager
    Ridge Vineyards/Monte Bello
    Host: “4488: A Ridge Blog”

    • Christopher, thank you. Your comment means a lot, both for how it offers a standard to live by, and for how your own blog fulfills it by example. Thank you–for your work, and for your compliment on mine. I am glad to find you here.

    • Thank you so much. I’ve appreciated your comments here. Grenache is a wonderful grape–I appreciate how much it does for blending, and what a range it offers on its own. Glad you like the comics. Thank you!

  2. Great post full of info! Love the comics! are you going to do a page that collects all of them? have you thought about doing study cards? (I’d buy a pack!) or putting them on the back of your biz cards?

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