The quality of California Syrah continues to skyrocket, and its success is pulling along other Rhône Valley grape transplants, chief among them Grenache.
As we’ve tasted through dozens of new Rhône-style reds in recent weeks, it’s amazing how delicious so many of these infant wines are.
Today Grenache is on my mind. This grape and wine shares many flavor, weight, density, body and stylistic attributes with Syrah. For example, it can be made in a simple, fruity, easy-drinking fashion, or in a richer, more concentrated style.
The effusive flavors of a young Grenache can be fascinating. Yesterday’s tasting showcased some 2006s that exhibited deliciously pure huckleberry and boysenberry fruit. These flavors are not to be missed, and you only get them in youthful wines. With age, those flavors will evolve into more complex ones, but they’ll lose that unique berry flavor.
It’s also interesting to see the evolution of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blends. Using Grenache (or Syrah) as the core grape and then building on it allows for a broader range of flavors.
Alban’s Edna Valley Grenache has been one of my favorites (the 2006 Alban Estate is sensational but $94). But lately I’ve also given high marks to Denner The Ditch Digger 2005 ($40) and Terry Hoage Grenache-Syrah The 46 2006 ($40), both from Paso Robles.
Then there’s a handful from Santa Barbara, including Tercero Grenache Watch Hill 2006 ($38), Beckmen Santa Ynez Valley Purisima Mountain 2006 ($48), Dara Grenache-Syrah Gratitude Larner Vineyard 2006 ($35), Departure Grenache Alta Mesa 2007 ($35) and McPrice Myers Grenache L’Ange Rouge 2006 ($36).
Finally there’s Relic’s Ritual Napa Valley 2007 ($48), offering a cuvée of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah and Petite Sirah. I reviewed this in this week's California Tasting Highlights, and it, like the aforementioned wines, defines complexity and distinction.