Pretty, cheerful, wonderful Grenache! We make one or two barrels per year from Tablas Creek's lightest clone. Pure strawberry fruit with a bit of savory sage and earthy goodness to round it out. Low tannin, low acid, but generous and possibly the perfect picnic wine on a sunny day.
Grenache is a strange and wonderful beast, and something I look forward to making every year because it is the opposite of many of our wines. There are very specific layers we want in the Sangiovese, a sinewy tension in some wines, specific tannin textures and a taught verticality in the Aglianico for example. The Grenache just is, freeform and unencumbered. Various things get thrown into the fermentation like white grapes, red grapes, stems, pressed skins sometimes and it does what it wants while fermenting rather than being led somewhere, you know, the woo-woo free-spirit thing. The type we planted is particularly light in tone and color anyway, so no point in trying to amp it up. Without tannin or rigorous sun exposure requirements to worry about, it gets a very light and iterative canopy handling in the vineyard as well, following the spirit of the vines and vintage rather than a specific vision. It is almost restorative in a sense, and quite forgiving in its happy nature, aided by the fact that it just loves Lake County weather, sucking up heat and sun while needing very little water.
In California Grenache will usually be a lighter-weight affair, low in color, acid and tannin and fairly high in alcohol if you want ripe fruit flavors, and underripe Grenache does have a distinct grassiness. Sure, Spain’s Garnachas can be much more dense and serious, and there are many, many different clones of Grenache that all respond in different ways to their home terroir. Let’s call it a diverse and warm-bodied wine that likes rocky soil challenges and limited water to prevent what could be excessive growth and crop. We could think of all these low-ish things as a deficiency in the normative and culturally judgy sense, but often a thing’s intrinsic nature can be an asset. Grenache can thrive in very challenging places. Food pairing can be a fun adventure as well, though not really needing food, just friends and nibbles, is Grenache’s greatest trick. It can be blended beautifully in the Rhone or served solo, which is done in many excellent diasporic forms in Australia, Sardinia, and as wonderful rosé almost everywhere a truly international grape.
Label Image: This 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. All the fruit in this wine came from the lower pyroclastic slopes of the Mt. Konocti volcano that stands guard over our vineyard, having last exploded just 11,000 years ago, spewing glistening obsidian over the entire county.
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This well-concentrated and focused wine brings black cherries and tangy cranberries to the palate, bracing them with moderate tannins and ..."
And from Bigger Than Your Head: "...This is a gloriously fresh, ripe, light and delicious grenache, offering a totally transparent ruby-brick red hue and winsome aromas of sour cherry and melon, cloves, briers and brambles with a touch of raspberry and its leaf; plenty of lip-smacking acidity holds the wine together, yet it feels almost weightless on the palate; mild tannins, sporting with dust and graphite, provide essential structure. 14.3 percent alcohol. Production was 72 cases. Excellent."
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