Monday, July 18, 2011

The Summer of Grenache, Continued: $20 and Up

There seems to be some kind of a summer of riesling thing happening. But as for me, different drummer and all that, grenache has caught my fancy and I've been exploring the organically grown American options.

Earlier this week, I blogged about the impressive Under $20 category. Today, I'm forging onward in the Summer of Grenache to the Over $20 category.

I've got one more to add to the $20 and Under List:

• 2007/8 Estate Grenache, Beckmen Vineyards (originally $25/on sale for $19.99)

Beckmen's estate vineyards are organic, while the Purisima Mountain vineyard is biodynamic. The Purisima Mountain grenache is almost twice the price of the estate grenache and is no longer available from the winery. However, you can find a few last cases online.

Parker's understandably a big fan of Beckmen, which includes both this grenache and its biodynamic cousin. Parker calls the 2008 vintage (no longer available) a "very attractive bargain." I agree. I just ordered a case, since this appears to be the end of the line for the bargain priced estate grenache which I guess will have to be "Mature" and ready to consume. No waiting!

Parker's 2008 notes:

The least expensive Grenache and a very attractive bargain is the 2008 Estate Grenache. This displays more strawberry, red currant, and cherry notes, with some earth, lavender, and subtle herbaceousness. Dark ruby, medium-bodied, with nice texture, this is a wine to drink over the next 2-3 years. 

$20-$30 Price Range

• 2009 Cote de Tablas Paso Robles, Tablas Creek, $30 (elsewhere down to $25 online for 2009/$22 for other vintages)

Paso Robles-based Tablas Creek should, given its Rhone family ownership make a fantastic Grenache. After all, the winery was created and is co-owned by a famous Rhone producer, the Perrin family. So it's no surprise that it makes a lovely grenache-syrah-counoise-mourvedre blend that is a Cote du Rhone taste-alike.

Parker rated the current vintage a whopping 93 points. The winemaker says it's the winery's most intense Cote de Tablas Rouge ever, given the low yields in the harvest during 2009, the third consecutive drought year.

In past years Parker, who has been a fan of the Perrin's French wines for decades and Tablas Creek's as well, has consistently given various Tablas Creek vintages scores between 88 and 93; Vinography likes it, too, rating it 9 (out of 10) points. Parker's notes (reprinted from the Tablas Creek web site): 

Charmingly fruity, supple and fun to drink, exhibiting ripe plum, black cherry and wild berry fruit that’s smooth and layered, with a long, fruity finish. Grenache, Syrah, Counoise and Mourvèdre. Drink now through 2017

In previous months, the Tablas Creek web site featured this from Parker:

This California Côte du Rhône look-alike, made from 42% Grenache, 21% Syrah, 20% Counoise (which must be an all-time high for that varietal in a Rhône Ranger blend), and 17% Mourvèdre, displays the earthier side of Rhône Rangers. Spicy, dark berries intermixed with underbrush, forest floor, pepper, and soy are followed by a medium-bodied, earthy wine in contrast to the more fruit-driven 2007. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. 

I laid in a good supply of this lovely wine on a recent visit to the winery. I'm waiting awhile to drink it.


Why do they call it 80? Because that's the number of days of frost this poor Rhone grape had to endure in southern Oregon, but endure it did. 

Cowhorn's got a great reputation for biodyamic wines. I'm looking forward to tasting it in person at the winery when I get up to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival later this summer. I'll let you know then how it's tasting.

I couldn't find any tasting notes on their web site or online but it's recorded here for posterity and for the sake of comprehensiveness.

Ampelos' estate wines are biodynamic.

While we await the new release, here are Parker's notes from the last (sold out) vintage:

The same earthiness, underbrush and Provençal herbs/garrigue notes [as the Cote de Tablas] are found in the 2008 Grenache. It is medium-bodied, not as lush and textured as the 2007, but very well made.

Before Qupe bought its own biodynamic vineyard (Sawyer Lindquist) in Edna Valley, it sourced its grenache from the Beckmen family's biodynamic Purisima Mountain vineyard. 

Qupe's now shifting over to its own Edna Valley vineyard so this may be the last vintage produced by Qupe from Purisima Mountain. 


I find it rather amazing that this price category exists for grenache, does.

• 2008 Adamo, AmByth Estate ($45)

In Paso Robles, one of the few other organic (actually it's biodynamic) wineries is Ambyth Estate, which also makes a very lovely GSM blend with a touch of counoise. The winery's tasting notes:

"...fruity, cherry-packed wine has strawberries and warm summer fruits with a dash of black pepper on the nose."

Robert Parker is a huge fan of this grenache as well, rating it 91 points:

More impressive, but nearly twice the price, is the 2008 Grenache Purisma Mountain Vineyard. This is an outstanding example of Grenache from the Santa Ynez Valley. Beautiful kirsch liqueur, lavender, spice box, and sweet black currants jump from the glass of this deep ruby/plum-colored wine. In the mouth, raspberries make an appearance in a rich, full-bodied, silky textured wine that is both hedonistic and intellectually pleasing. This is a super example of Grenache that should drink nicely for another 4-6 years. 

...This corroborates past performances over the last decade that Beckman is one of the best producers from Santa Ynez."

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