California Grenache, and global Grenache in general, has a confusing nature. On the one hand you have the darker, fuller-bodied purple-fruited and lightly-blended Grenache of Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhone Valley, and Spanish Garnacha (still Grenache) from the Priorat region that can be downright intense. However, California Grenache, and many other areas in France and Spain yield a much lighter, friendly light red. Why? Well, the number of Grenache clones is downright huge, as are the terroirs. It can produce way too much on deep soil, getting more bland the higher the crop load, and ending up pale pink. This is where old vines really shine to limit crop, unique locations to control the vigorous vines, and careful work in the vineyard to keep it all in balance.
The first couple vintages we tried to beef up our Grenache, one year making a true GSM with 20% Syrah and Mourvedre. It was good, but originally the vines were planted with rosé in mind, we have quite a few spicy medium-bodied wines anyway, and the Grenache charm got lost along the way. So in 2016 (we didn’t even get a single barrel of crop in 2015) we made 2 barrels with 7% air-dried whole cluster Sangiovese – our dirty little secret. And boom, the fruit and fun were back, and we have been going pure ever since!
The wine: Strawberry explosion and macerated cherry explosion. Watermelon? White and black pepper? A touch of tea perhaps? So drinkable, even chillable. 2 barrels made. Unfined and unfiltered but precise and pure.
Label Image: The label image is Athansius Kircher’s 1638 drawing of Mount Vesuvius’ eruption in his incredible Mundus Subterraneus. A true genius, artist, and polymath, he lowered himself into smoldering Vesuvius, eventually passing out and needing rescue while sketching and documenting his discoveries. This image is from the same book as our Cabernet Franc label, with volcanoes above joining fiery rivers below. All the fruit in this wine came from the lower pyroclastic slopes of the Mt. Konocti volcano that stands guard over our vineyard.
Review:This full-bodied wine has excellent structure and balance to support vivid black-cherry, black-plum and spice-box flavors. A nice touch of tannin builds the mouthfeel while fruit, cinnamon and clove nuances continue to develop with each sip. Best through 2024.