If it’s Thursday, it must be Grenache!

Our Thursday night tasting featured Grenache. George gave us some background on the origin of the grape which may have originated on a Greek Isle. It was probably taken to Spain by the Moors and from there to France and eventually to the area of Provence along the Rhone river where it has arguably reached it’s highest and best use. Cotes du Rhone is general name given to wines made along the Rhone Valley between Vienne and Avignon, Chateauneuf du Pape being among the best know examples in the southern Rhone. In the southern region, Grenache is blended with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault. In the northern portion of the valley, Syrah is the major varietal producing a wine with a different character – but we’ll leave that for another time! The Grenache grape is slow to ripen and requires warmer, longer days. In addition to the Rhone Valley, Spain where it is called Garnacha, California and Australia have significant plantings.

Here are the five wines we tasted this Thursday.

2007 Parallel 45 Jaboulet Cotes du Rhone – The color is dark ruby, the nose is smoky. Flavors taste of tart red fruit with smooth tannins and lots of acid. The finish is short with acid and alcohol lingering the longest. This wine has a light mouth feel and light flavors. Some tasters thought it was not well structured.

2007 Jaffurs Wine Cellars Santa Barbara County Grenache – The color is a dark ruby. There is dark fruit and vegetal scents on the nose. Flavors tasted of vanilla and ripe fruit with more complex flavors than the Jaboulet. The tannins are moderate in amount with lots of acid and a finish that is moderate in length. Overall, tasters thought this is a more interesting wine.

1/12/2011 – We re-tasted this wine tonight and we love it! Without looking back at our prior tasting notes, we described this wine as follows: the color is bright ruby. The nose is very obvious and smells earthy with dark red rose scents that Pete associates with a Grenache. For me, the nose is very complex with Cardamom and other complex spices. The flavor is earthy and spicy with bright dark fruit. The tannins are moderate and well integrated with good acidity. The finish is moderate in length with both flavor and tannins. We both like this wine very much Nancy thought is had characteristics similar to a Pinot Noir.

2008 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha – The color is dark ruby with scents of dark berries on the nose. Flavors taste of dark, tart fruit, vanilla and pepper. There is a moderate amount of tannins and lots of acid with a moderately long finish with flavor and acid.

2008 Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache (Barosso Valley Australia) – Very light ruby color, with a minty nose and light tart fruit flavors and mint. Light mouth feel with a moderate amount of tannins and lots of acid. The finish is short and slightly sweet. Pete thought this wine was made in a style that reminded him of the southern Rhone.

2004 Chateau Mont-Redon Chateauneuf du Pape – The color of this wine is like iodine. The nose is minimal but a little spice and leather come through. Minimal flavors of fruit and spice with significant tannins and a lot of acid make this a very pleasant wine. The finish was moderate in length, finishing with both flavor and tannins. This was the group’s favorite wine and naturally the most expensive.

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