Friday, September 20 marks International Grenache Day for 2013. Last year, to celebrate I focused specifically on wines from the California Central Coast and Sonoma. This year, I decided to keep it simple and taste through examples from California more broadly focusing in more on Grenache Blanc, with just one Grenache Gris, and one Grenache Noir. Following are notes from tasting.
TASTING GRENACHE BLANC
Acquiesce 2012 Grenache Blanc, Mokelumne Hills, 13.5%
Made from young vines, the Acquiesce Grenache Blanc is worth watching. In its second vintage, the wine is already showing interest with still young fruit. The 2012 offers a crisp body flavored by light stone fruit and crisp Asian pear alongside light grapefruit accents and touches of star fruit moving into a long white floral finish.
Bokisch Vineyards 2012 Garnacha Blanca, Vista Luna Vineyard, 13.5%
Blended with just a touch of Albarino, the Bokisch Garnacha Blanca gives the rocky tension the Vista Luna Vineyard reliably generates. Aged on its lees, the wine brings together a light creaminess with tons of juicy character moving into a long finish. Flavors of clementine, hints of wax, with refreshing dill accents move into a long mineral finish. This wine is all about value.
Cochon 2011 Grenache Blanc, Clements Hills, 13.8%
A nicely textural plushness with good acidity carries the subtle, clean flavors of the Cochon Grenache Blanc. The wine offers anise, with powdered lily, and fresh greenery through a long, lifting finish. The Grenache Blanc core is paired here with 5% Marsanne, and 5% Roussanne, keeping the focus on floral notes rather than fruit. I enjoy the clean flavor presentation, the focus on subtlety, and the textural interest.
Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Blanc, Saarloos Vineyard, Santa Ynez, 13.4%
The Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Blanc nose opens with light almond paste, quince and touches of citrus, that continue through the palate into a long juicy finish. As it warms, the wine shifts into riper pear and almond, bringing richer, still juicy flavors. With a creamy mouthfeel on a still taut mineral-zing line, the 2012 carries more fruit expression than its more austere, mineral focus 2011 counterpart, an appropriate indication of vintage expression.
TASTING GRENACHE GRIS
[Please pretend there is a brilliant illustration of Grenache Gris Varietal Characteristics here as I did not have time to design one though I love it so.]
click on imaginary image to enlarge
Idlewild 2012 Grenache Gris, Gibson Ranch, 12.6%
A beautiful light rosé, the Idlewild Grenache Gris offers fresh floral aromatics with touches of jalapeno and light beeswax accents. Through the palate the character deepens into herbal, light campari-like hints, with brushes of apricot and blood orange. There is a nice textural interest here as well. This would also be a lovely, refreshing Thanksgiving wine.
TASTING GRENACHE NOIR
Skinner 2010 Grenache, El Dorado, 14.8%
Giving a well-integrated presentation of red fruit, red flower and dark spice with touches of lavender, the Skinner Grenache shows a concentrated core rolling through with juicy length over smooth tannin into a medium-long finish. The bottle first opens with lightly reductive notes that just want a little time to roll into the wine’s lovely fruit expression.
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I am delighted you enjoyed the 2012 GB. I am hoping to one day soon do a 2010/11/12 side by side tasting and will have to make sure you can attend.
It’s been quite fun to watch the 2012 develop in the bottle, as it has been each year, its remarkable how much this wine transforms, and in the last month, has show new development.
The 2012 vintage was quite similar to 2011, long and modest, normally one of the things I can rely on at this Los Olivos site. The 2010,2011, 2012 were all picked within 3 days of each other and similar brix. (2013 has broken this trend.)
I actually picked 2012 at 22.5 brix, a tinybit leaner, and is a .4% lower in alcohol. We had a fair amount of tiny green berries, also mixed with a nice array of sun ripened, golden brown ones. I actually like this variation, it provides additional layers of complexity in my humble opinion.
What I DID change vinification wise for the first time was I aged 20% in stainless, with the intent of capturing a bit more brightness and aromatics. The micro-oxygenation of neutral barrels gives nice complexity, but loses some of that. I think that is resulting in showing more fruit.
Across 3 vintages I have observed regularly that the minerality aspect develops and increases with bottle aging, and is making that turn now, from its release in June. I would be delighted to send you a bottle again in the spring so you can compare its progression if you’d like and get your insight on bottle development.
Thank you so much for supporting Grenache Day and taking time to review all these wines.
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