A California Red that Evokes France and Australia

Unti Grenache Dry Creek Valley 2006
Harvey Steiman
Posted: July 27, 2009

Having found a winner a few weeks earlier with Unti’s Barbera, I jumped at the chance to try the Sonoma winery’s Grenache when I spied it on the by-the-glass list at A16. My wife and I had stopped into the San Francisco trattoria for lunch—a pizza margherita hot from the wood-fired oven and a bruschetta topped with lovely fresh ricotta and a melange of grilled vegetables.

In my experience, California vintners often fall short with Grenache, but my fond memory of Unti’s Barbera persuaded me to order a 375ml carafe of the Grenache, for $25. It was a revelation, supple and generous with its blueberry and plum fruit, nicely shaded with tar and sweet spice notes. I especially liked the texture, which let the wine dance easily. 89 points, non-blind.

Turns out Unti used different clones from those generally available in California, planting cuttings from Châteauneuf-du-Pape in 1998. With 17 percent Syrah and 6 percent Mourvèdre in the blend, Châteauneuf-du-Pape clearly was the model for the wine. And yet the profile reminded me more of Australian GSMs (Grenache-Shiraz-Mataro (Mourvèdre) blends). Not a bad thing.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Grenaches from California, plus our quick list of Easy Finds among California reds.

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