A few years ago over a bottle of Grenache my dad and I agreed that this grape should do well at the Scherrer Vineyard. Dad said it used to be grown more extensively in the area, but it was not as highly valued as other grape varieties or crops so it (unfortunately) fell out of favor. While I have been collecting and drinking southern Rhone wines for decades (where this variety plays a large role), I had not seriously considered working with the grape before then. There are several acres at the family vineyard that have been fallow a long time and perhaps it is time to change that. So, it became time for me to learn something by working with the variety so we could make some more informed decisions when it came to planting time. My sister, Louise who has been farming alongside my dad for quite some time, likes this wine very much and supports the idea, adding her own efforts in research. It’s nice to have everyone lending their minds to a new endeavor. It will make the result more timeless and lasting.
Enter Dick Keenan’s Kick Ranch in eastern Sonoma County in 2011. The late fall rain that year didn’t make it the ideal vintage to work with a new [to me] variety growing on the cool side of its zone. But I found that even under difficult conditions, it is a very worthy variety in Sonoma County. While I did not bottle a varietal Grenache from that first vintage, I learned a great deal about its personality including its affinity to co-fermenting and blending with small amounts of other varieties such as Syrah and Zinfandel. The 2012, our first bottling offered here, bears the fruit of this experience. There is a small amount of Syrah co-fermented with one of the Grenache lots and blended together for optimal harmony. That bit of Syrah makes it well balanced in all its aspects of angles, rounds, substance and delicacy.
Our 2012 Grenache has a nice mix of floral, red-fruit, white pepper, earthy/meaty aromas that give way to an appropriately generous, textural mouthfeel that is supported by substantial tannin in the way that a large tent is held up by the interior framework. The sides can billow in the breeze, ruffling and changing shape, but the core structure is sufficiently solid to maintain shape and function. Again, there is delicacy within substance here. We have done extensive research at the dinner table pairing this wine with many different foods from tomato-based sauces and pasta, simple grilled pork, to braised beef and antelope and find that it is extremely versatile. It also handles a diverse set of food spices and sings with rosemary in particular [no great surprise there].
“Excitement” and “anticipation” pretty much sum up the reactions of those who have previewed this wine from barrel or bottle. Josh Raynolds tasted the young wine last May and remarked “Elegant and lively on the palate, with energetic raspberry and wild strawberry flavors complicated by peppery spices. Finishes with bright, focused red fruit flavors and very fine tannins; there’s a pinot-like elegance to this Grenache that makes it approachable now”. The two questions most commonly asked by the early audience were ‘when will this be released?’ and ‘will I be able to get some?’ The answers are: “now” and “yes”.