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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Grenache....Blind!

Met up w/ a new crew tonight and they were as diverse as they come. Some full fledged dweebies, others on the up-swing towards Star Trek flair…most importantly, a Texan (from San Antonio, to be exact) and a D.C. native had the opportunity to become inundated w/ a full fledged New York moment…in Provence!

Provence is a cute, casual bistro off MacDougal St. in one of my favorite nooks of Soho. The décor is utterly French, rounded out by an underlying sense of serious attention to detail. Complete w/ the backdrop of a picturesque patio, this bucolic setting was primed for some serious Grenache indulgence. Once the wild game, charcuterie and raviolis hit the table, we were ready to commence this double fisting affair!

We spliced together a hodge podge of varying Grenache blends from Australia, California and the Rhone valley and served them incognito, complete w/ impenetrable tinfoil wrapping to the neck (no peeking!).

Wine One
Aromatically complex, but came off to me as a bit blowzy. Notes of caramelized fruit, roasted nuts, violet, potpourri and kirsch strike a wild spectrum of flavors that seem just a tad too fabricated to be compelling. The palate is where the vulnerabilities of the wine are fully exposed, as brandy macerated plum engorges the pepper flavors in a shrine of heat. The finish is abrupt and clumsy, leading me to believe that this wine was the product of a difficult vintage and not handled in as adept a fashion as it necessitated. Certainly strutted its stuff via the nose, but the brief tease did not live up to the initial promise. 86 points.
-Outpost Grenache, Napa Valley 2004

Wine Two
Much more composed, but certainly extravagantly extracted, expressing scents of eucalyptus (picked up on astutely by our attractive and perceptive waitress…who obviously has a heartbreaker of a palate!), dill, blueberries, black currant and spice box. Sporting suave, tamed tannins and praiseworthy persistence, wrapped up in a finely fashioned package. A bit of a sweetie, but certainly done w/ balance in mind. 92 points.
-D’Arenberg Ironstone Pressings 2002(a slightly higher percentage of Shiraz, supporting the Grenache and Mourvedre components).

Wine Three
Another intensely fashioned, full-throttle New World blend that didn’t pull any punches, but seemed capable of landing them much more often than the Outpost was. Rich, toasty and delicious flavors sent tingles up the spine, sporting licorice, clove, blackberry liqueur, raspberry reduction and vanilla beans. The fruit was frank and sweet, gliding over firmly defined, sweet tannins in an opulent, but easy going fashion. Well done. 93 points.
-Saxum, James Berry Vineyard (Paso Robles) 2004.

Wine Four
Hello Old World! We’ve wandered away from the jams and jellies of the previous 3 Musketeers and stumbled upon serious undertones of leather, tobacco leaf, cedar and truffle notes that evoke images of a mature Bordeaux. While the nose tells us she’s on the older side, the palate says otherwise. Although the body is of medium weight, w/ flavors of soft red cherries and red plumbs, the powerful, authoritative tannins flex their sinew like a bodybuilder’s bicep curl. The character and general rusticity remind me of a young, rambunctious Allain Graillot Crozes Hermitage (maybe that's the 10 percent Syrah talking?). 89 points….needs food!
-Chateau De Saint Cosme, Gigondas 2001

Wine FiveI knew this was my wine from the second I smelled it. Let me tell you something, if I ever am blessed w/ walking through the fields of ambrosia, I am certain they will be speckled w/ wild, Provencal herbs that I was able to easily detect in this glass! While there was absolutely a gush of underground garrigue through the nose and finish of this wine (which echoed relentlessly, I might add), the texture was shockingly satin, pure and as voluptuous as any top notch Chateauneuf aspires to be. Notes of currant, game, dark fig cake and oodles of wild herbs make themselves noticeable from the get go. While I allowed roughly 90 minutes of air time for this strapping young Southern Rhone, it was remarkably approachable and nearly concealed all its structure w/ phenomenal flesh. Bravo! 94 points (my wine of the night).
-Vieux Donjon 2005

Wine Six
Back to the New World we go folks! Hello modern vogue, raspberry ganache and blueberry pie be thy name! Toasty and delicious, w/ suave, rounded edges that are absolutely ready to roll. If you are into a jammy delight, this is certainly your ticket. While there is depth in concentration, there is certainly not much complexity to be had on this relatively monolithic, but yummy ride. 90 points.
-Rosemount GSM, 2001

Wine Seven
Lucky seven was a bit of a wild card. The smells of rustic Tempranillo were on the brain, especially when you take into consideration the fact that this wine was the essence of armpit! Sweaty, funky, but w/ plenty of character from its bay leaf, dried currant, sage and….more sweaty notes! The attack of this wine was surprisingly explosive, gushing fig paste and leather that screamed of Chateauneuf…and then she fell apart a bit, becoming disjointed and ruggedly tannic, cutting the trailing garrigue notes off at the past. A masculine wine that was hardly seamless and certainly in need of sustenance to tame those tannins! Shows the heat and lack of balance that the 2003 vintage was known for, but definitely has quite a bit to admire. 88 points.
-2003 Guigal Chateauneuf

This tasting played out in nearly textbook fashion, making regional guessing relatively easy for the researched wine geek (I had no problem pinning them down w/ relative ease). Having said that, Ben Sherwin, a gentleman and a scholar, pulled the rabbit of the hat by calling not only the producer of wine number seven, but the vintage (this last wine was double blind!). Kudos to Ben the magnificent, w/ a palate and vulgar sense of humor that only I could admire…allow me to immerse myself in your glory vicariously!

Thanks again to all for gathering at Provence tonight (and Ben for his organization)…fashioning an easy night that was all too easy to love.

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