Grenache made well is a beautiful thing. A fruity, spicy, rich yet simultaneously fresh, sappy, scruffy mediterranean herb tinged beautiful thing. Unfortunately, I don't get most, or even some, of these personal palate memory descriptors in most grenache based wines: not in Cotes du Rhone, Gigondas, Chateauneuf du Pape, nor in California's central coast. Burgundy is often described as full of landmines for those seeking authenticity and value, but how about Chateauneuf du Pape? Rare is the CdP which balances the generously spicy, savory and tangy qualities of a classic grenache driven blend.
Rather than dwell on what I hate (always good fun, but rarely constructive), I have decided to focus on what is good. Instead of focusing on how disappointing that 2000 Rayas, or 2000 Vieux Telegraphe, was, I'll opt to remember the 2001 Fonsalette, or most Gramenon and Texier grenache based wines I have drunk.
And here are two more wines to add to the steadily burgeoning list of grenache I actually like.
2005 Chateau Montfaucon Cotes du Rhone
A blend of grenache, syrah, cinsault and carignane, co-fermented and aged for 18 months in concrete. I would not be surprised if the somewhat rustic, spicy, and surprisingly fresh qualities on display here have something to do with the contribution of the latter two grapes. Also, the winery only uses estate fruit, organically farmed, from lower yielding vines. According to the website, organic compost consisting of sheep manure and marc is used, native grasses are grown between rows, and plowing is only done when necessary in very dry vintages. This wine manages to show both ripeness and delicacy, intensity and nuance, spicy herbs and higher toned fruit. Delicious wine and a real keeper, if only I had another bottle to keep.
2008 Qupe Sawyer Lindquist Grenache Edna Valley
All I remember about Bob Lindquist’s new, younger vine grenache (I was about 40 wines in prior to tasting it) is the beautiful, translucent, light ruby color, and the tangy red fruit. A delicate side of grenache, courtesy of a winemaker who clearly values both grenache and delicacy.