First, let’s start by talking about Grenache. The grape likely originated in Spain where they call it Garnacha, but it is found abundantly in France in the Rhône Valley. It is the “G” in a “GSM” (Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre) which is the traditional Red Blend from the Southern Rhône.
About half of the Grenache grown in the world is in France, with the next biggest portion being grown in Spain. As far as the Rhône Valley goes, it is the most widely planted grape and it is the second most widely planted grape in the world! When you have a single variety Grenache you are looking at a Medium bodied wine.
In Santa Barbara, Mikael Sigouin is known as the “Grenache King”. This Island Boy has a winery called Kaena in Santa Barbara County where he makes some amazing Grenache as well as other wines. He sources his grapes from local vineyards, many of whom specially farm his blocks to his particular specs.
One of these vineyards is Larner Vineyards in Ballard Canyon. He has the best Grenache block on this vineyard, but it wasn’t always that way. Let’s hear him tell the story….
You can visit Kaena and try some of this amazing Grenache at their tasting room in Los Olivos at 2890 Grand Avenue.
Tablas Creek has an incredible website, most especially if you are a wine geek. So here’s a link if you want to dive in deep on Grenache and in particular Grenache from Tablas Creek. https://tablascreek.com/story/vineyard_and_winemaking/grapes/grenache
The Grenache Vertical
Yes, each of these wines are grown at the same vineyard and made by the same winemaker, but there are differences. First of course is the difference in age, when it was made and how much time it has spent in the bottle before opening. But each vintage is unique. We began our Grenache vertical with the 2009 which was the fourth time that Tablas Creek had done a single varietal Grenache bottling.
In 2009 California had been in drought conditions for 3 years. April frost and a huge October rainstorm caused the lowest yields they had ever seen at 1.85 tons per acre for the reds. Low yields do typically indicate more concentrated fruit and that held true for this wine when it was made. This was the 4th bottling of Grenache as a single varietal for Tablas Creek.
The Vintage Chart for this wine (which you can find on the Tablas site) indicates that this wine is “Drinking Well: Youthful” while the other two vintages are noted at “Drinking Well: Mature”. Seems strange that the older wine is more tasting more youthful right? The concentration of this vintage allowed more tannins in the wine to give it more room for aging, and in fact they believe that this wine will continue to age nicely for another decade or more. When it comes to aging wines, these folks know a thing or two.
This wine started off warm with red fruit topped with baking spice and prune then it opened up and became spicier with fine ground white pepper. It continued to open through the evening with more herbs and resin.
Harvest for this vintage was late, starting 3 weeks later than usual and ending 2 weeks later. As opposed to 2009, yields of Grenache were almost doubled from the previous vintage. The summer was cool, but not foggy and while they had a little rain during harvest, it was followed by sun and wind to dry out the moisture. This wine and the ’12 are expected to continue to age well for the next 15 years.
This wine had more fruit on the palate than the ’09 and it was a little figgy on the nose (which caused me to buy some fig butter to pair with it). As it opened up I got a little leather, then prunes and more warmth.
The yields from this vintage were similar to 2010 (just a small increase in the tons of Grenache). The sugar levels in the 2012 Grenache sit at just about the same place as the 2010 also.
My first impression in the glass was dried strawberries and cocoa. It opened up to more savory notes of black tea on roasted meat with dried herbs and then some caramel at the end.
Pairing with cheese
cheddar, fontina, gouda, jarlsberg, red leicester, swiss cheese
How to serve
how to serve
try serving at room temp
warming it slightly will release more aromas
generally no need to decant
pair with food
Pair with food
grilled, stewed and braised meats like beef, veal, pork, chicken and of course game.