Monday, September 27, 2010

Journée Mondiale du Grenache at the Wine Barn

A group of devoted Grenache enthusiasts descended upon the Wine Barn this past Friday to partake in a blind tasting of Grenache-based wines culled from the very list of the wines tasted at the International Grenache Symposium held this past June at La Verriere in the hamlet of Crestet in the southern Rhone Valley.

The Wine Barn had selected 12 bottles, representing a variety of styles and countries of origin, and a few participants provided additional "blind" bottles to further up the ante. The lineup featured wines from France, Spain, Australia, and the United States and  ranged in age from the 2000 vintage to the 2008 vintage. With the added wine contributions, the wines tasted ranged in age from 15 years old to current vintages.

While the International Grenache Day festivities did not seem to garner the same volume of tweets and posts as those for #Cabernet Day and, more recently, #Bubbly Day, there was considerable global enthusiasm as was evident in the number of locations contributing tweets, the buzz leading up to the event, as well as through information disseminated in preparation for the tasting events (A list of wines and background information from the 1st Annual Grenache Symposium, a primer on the grape, and "activation ideas" for the event, were all made available.).

On a somewhat surprising note, several tasters found many of the wines tasted that night to be remarkably similiar. The jammy red fruit, tar, and herbaceous flavors of the grenache shone through, be it from a 2000 Domaine de la Solitude Barberini Chateauneuf du Pape to a 2006 Torbreck The Steading, and a 2005 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant to a 2007 Alto Moncayo. Also holding true across the tasting was the high-octane nature of grenache, with alcohol levels at or above 14.5% being commonplace.

Some of the real treats came with the wines donated by the participants. These wines included the 1995 Domaine Santa Duc Prestige des Hautes Garrigues Gigondas, the 1998 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape, the 1998 Alvaro Palacios L'Ermita Priorat, and the 2001 Domaine de Pagau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du Pape. All four of these wines were among the crowd favorities, particularly the L'Ermita, which exhibited such a depth of flavor, balance, and finesse that a few tasters were convinced that it had to be a Napa Valley Cabernet.

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