Dealing with 9am traffic to Downtown LA is not my idea of fun. However the powers that be selected a venue, Redbird Restaurant, which had a very nice private room for a medium-sized group of sommeliers and other very interested people in the wine trade. Why? Check out the wine list below, now completed with my tasting notes, as well as some of the interesting things I learned about Grenache from Patrick Comiskey, Wine and Spirits Magazine and author of American Rhone, and Peter Fraser, winemaker for Yangarra Estates.
Tasting – aromas and flavors separated by;
2015 Yangarra Old Vine Grenache (McLaren Vale)
The vines for this wine date back to 1946, 14.5% alcohol, 100% Grenache and approx. $25 bottle. Fraser showed us photos of the grapes before and after sorting: very uniform in color and no stems. He said this wine shows a richer riper wine. All hit their “sweet spot” after 10 years of aging. Comiskey added that all Grenache are “gloriously aromatic” in the glass.
Dusty red cherries, raspberry jam and bark; bright red fruit, dry, long length.
2015 Domaine de Cristia Vieilles Vignes (Châteauneuf-du-Pape)
100% Grenache, this was my first favorite of the tasting, and as our second to taste I was reminded of what Fraser said, the winemaking “should transcribe a sense of place.” This CDP definitely didn’t have the same aroma or flavor profile of the first Yangarra.
Darker red fruit, cigar, smoke, male sweat; rose petals and other florals showed in the mouth.
2015 Domaine de Marcoux Vieilles Vignes (Châteauneuf-du-Pape)
98% Grenache and 2% Cinsault and about $170 a bottle. Comiskey said that Rhônes from CDP are “unparalleled in the world.”
Bright red fruit, raspberry, green forest floor, earth; berry, stems, medium finish.
2014 Yangarra High Sands Grenache (McLaren Vale)
Fraser said this one was “more restrained”, 100% Grenache, 14.5% alcohol and about $90 a bottle. Fraser also said they do most of their Grenache as single varietals that allows for silky, tannic and perfumed structure.
Sweet black cherry, milk chocolate, and a hint of a wet forest and barnyard; red to blue fruits, dark, dusty and tannic.
2013 Espectacle (Montsant)
Alcohol at 15% and a price tag of about $155 a bottle.
Sweeter nose, floral, Port notes, bursting red fruit and dark cherry; noted the higher alcohol on the mouth, red fruit, tannic.
2013 Yangarra High Sands Grenache (McLaren Vale)
A year older than the first High Sands we tasted. With 14.8% alcohol, 100% Grenache and a $90 price tag.
Fruit felt darker, could definitely note that wee bit of longer age on this one; tart red fruit and tannic. My second favorite in the tasting so far.
2013 Torbreck Les Amis (Barossa Valley)
Although both Comiskey and Fraser seemed not to care for this wine it proved to be my favorite of the tasting. 100% Grenache, 16% alcohol and about $155 a bottle.
Much darker fruit, smoke, oak and forest floor; well-balanced fruit, pepper and a nice long finish.
2013 Sine Qua Non Female Grenache (California)
And here was our cult wine and one I really looked forward to tasting as our finish. With 15.7% alcohol, from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, $330 a bottle and the only GSM blend in the tasting: 78% Grenache, 19% Syrah and 3% Mourvedre. Comiskey had read a bit from his book on American Rhônes and I recalled that he wrote that Grenache is the “organizer” of every blend and has “unique varietal gifts.” The varietal may have been born as Garnacha in Spain “but is now grown wherever there is abundant sunshine.” Also a favorite but I still enjoyed the Torbreck best.
Perfumy, aromatic, great red to darker fruits, slightly sweet; huge red fruit in the mouth, spice and an incredible length.
From Yangarra: Australia is to take on France and the US…
The…educational masterclasses…are designed to draw attention to the quality of wine possible from this underrated grape, particular when sourced from very old vines in Australia’s McLaren Vale.
Among the wines on show (were) biodynamic wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s Domaine de Cristia and Domaine de Marcoux as well as Female from Sine Qua Non, which is made with 78% Grenache by Manfred Krankl, a champion of Rhône grapes in the state. However, leading the line-up will be Grenache from Yangarra Estate in the McLaren Vale, including the producer’s flagship High Sands Grenache, which is created using biodynamically-farmed fruit from bush vines planted in 1946.
…Named Australian Winemaker of the Year for 2016 by eminent wine critic James Halliday, Fraser is a highly respected figure in the Australian wine industry, and one whose expertise centers on Rhône grapes, in particular Grenache, having made wine from the variety since 2000 at Yangarra Estate.
Fraser…agreed to compare his wines to the greatest varietal Grenaches from around the world, which included not only the rarest expressions from the aforementioned Domaine de Cristia and Domaine de Marcoux, but also Spain’s Espectacle, a pure Grenache from 120 year-old vines in Montsant, made by René Barbier, famous for Priorat’s Clos Mogador.
The award-winning McLaren Vale winemaker has also said he will show his wines alongside Australia’s celebrated varietal Grenache from the Barossa Valley: Torbreck’s Les Amis, which is made using grapes from vines planted in 1901.
This tasting will provide an educational look at Grenache using a selection of extremely rare wines made from one of the trade’s most underrated grapes.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com