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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

An Opulent California White

Curran Grenache Blanc Santa Ynez Valley 2007

Thomas Matthews
Posted: June 4, 2010

On a recent trip to Boston, I had dinner with old friends at Salts, a cozy yet ambitious restaurant in Cambridge. Low light, white tablecloths, friendly but professional service and reasonable prices made for a delightful evening.

Chef-owner Gabriel Bremer, a true locavore, grows many of his own herbs and vegetables, yet he also embraces the innovative techniques and subtle humor of molecular gastronomy. One of the delicious results is a poached egg ($15) nestled in an oatmeal risotto flavored with parsley, garlic and snails, garnished with duck “ham” and surrounded by a parmesan foam. It’s a heavenly breakfast. The night’s highlight was duck roasted with lavender honey, served with a profusion of earthy vegetables and a rich, burnished sauce, carved tableside ($65 for two).

The wine list, like the menu, married old stalwarts with new-wave stars from France, Spain and California (along with a few offerings from Uruguay, home of Bremer’s wife and the restaurant’s gracious hostess, Analia Verolo). We started with a Grenache Blanc from California’s Central Coast, listed at $60.

Although widely planted in France’s Rhone Valley and Spain, Grenache Blanc is relatively rare in the United States, with fewer than 200 acres currently in production. Curran sourced its fruit from Camp 4 Vineyard in the warmer eastern edge of the Santa Ynez Valley; the wine was cool-fermented in stainless-steel tanks, with no malolactic fermentation. The wine is full-bodied, with vibrant acidity giving it excellent balance, full of tropical and floral notes. A delightful wine, refreshing and food-friendly; I rated it 91 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Grenache Blancs.

Gary Stoyan
Sherman Oaks, CA —  June 4, 2010 6:48am ET
$20-24 retail wine for $60.00...doesn't sound very reasonable to me. Great wine, though. 2009 vintage is out now.

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