Rednecks ‘n Red Rhones Wine

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Rednecks ‘n Red Rhones 2013 – “Danica, DANICA, DANICA”
Or “Grenache, you made me do it, but I didn’t want to do it.”

Bob Cuozzi

The Colonel cooks up some mean pork tenderloin with gravy and sides of cabbage and rice. Greg’s never ending supply of baguettes is nevertheless materially dented. Good eats! We wash it down and continue to knock back,

Sine Qua Non The Monkey (Blanc) Santa Barbara Co., Ca. 2010
A well knitted blend of Rousanne 52%, Viognier 22% and Chardonnay (maybe about 19% for the Chard) with Marsanne completing the contingent. “Only 20%” new oak …. really. The percentage is irrelevant – the wine reeks of new oak. But just before falling in the woodpile and just before the point of pulling toothpicks from your teeth, the wine reverses with pretty fruit popping through … and loads of it: intense acacia flower, orange and tangerine. That fruit sets the stage for a photo finish of lychee, white pepper and anise. The texture of the wine is weighty; the mouthfeel is almost sexy. The texture carries this wine although the 15% alc. is a bit daunting. Find this wine

E. Guigal Condrieu Rhone 2010
Clean, pure somewhat…. I dunno, intentionally intense, perhaps? While not spoofalated, it’s sorta tricked out. Sure the finish is not shy of wood, but before you get there it delivers clean honeysuckle, orange blossom, yellow peach, and white pepper out the ying yang. A comfortable 13.5% alc., even if the profile seems a little too sculpted. Find this wine

Booker Vineyard “Ripper” Paso Robles Ca. 2011
Gawd, the alcohol 14.6% alc. is intense! The tannins are intense! The fruit is intense! But after, I dunno, 5 hours, it’s still intense, but no longer enamel-stripping-intense. Bob wanted Grenache. He’s got it in spades with this sample of 100% Amerikin-by-Gawd-Grenache. A huge palate of candy apple with spice and tobacco. The length of the finish will make a large colon cramp. Find this wine

Sine Qua Non Five Shooter Santa Barbara Co., Ca. 2010
Grenache 90% and Syrah 10% (more or less) … it needs more. A big, BIG wine delivers a syrupy mouthfeel and alcoholic heat (15.4% alc.). Yes, we can be criticized for vinicide because this wine does need years, but even then what will it be? As forgotten as David Marcis. (If you know that name yur a real race fan.) There’s fruit in there now, but the alcohol drives the tastebuds into the wall. Find this wine

Clos Erasumus Priorat 2000
Soft and plushy; a New World leaning blend of 65% Grenache and 35% Syrah, but with intense flavors of spice, cherry, tobacco and green olive. With 15% alc., it’s pushing the limits of holding traction, but the tannins give its tires a load of grip. A very young wine that needs ….NEEDS much more time. This will last YEARS – hold and drink in about 10 more years. That cherry fruit will last at least that long. Find this wine

Cims de Porrera Priorat Classic 2001
No yellow striped rookie in this chassis. Made from the juice of 80 to 100 year old vines of Carignan and Grenache, it clocks in with interesting tastes of Asian 5 spice, iodine, tobacco and black olive with length and breadth. Pumping up at 14.5% alc. An interesting and worthwhile pour. I never thought I’d care to taste a Carignan dominated wine, but thanks to a sea of wanna be Grenache, I’m interested. Tomorrow morning, roll me over; I’ll be interested then. In the meantime, I’m interested now. Find this wine

The conversation turns to growing hair on women’s chests and men’s heads. I can understand the latter, but damn if I know why we are considering the former. Perhaps the Grenache has us all addled. It must. We’re in desperate need of relief. An angel of mercy passes,

Thierry Allemand Chaillot Cornas Rhone 2004
Steve brought this so Jim will have something to drink. Apparently, everyone changes their name to “Jim” once this hit the table. The glass fills with smoky goodness. Flavors of smoked meat, blackberry, black olive, tobacco, iodine and an almost bacony goodness comfort the senses like an antidote to Grenache poisoning. A gentle 13% alc. If there’s a time to be piggy at the table, this is it. Is there a reason why this Syrah based wine is the first bottle finished? I don’t think so. Find this wine

Domaine de la Mordoree Cuvee de la Reine des Bois Chateaufeuf du Pape Rhone 1998
This is what CdP wants to be with loads of blackberry, tobacco ash, tobacco leaf, black olive, iodine and spice. Good length and depth. The 14% alc. doesn’t offend either. Ok, if this is what a Grenache led wine should be, then so be it. When in its element, Grenache is a stand up kind of grape; a hard worker; a supporting player that doesn’t seek celebrity. My wine of the night. Find this wine

But Bob isn’t letting us off that easy. The next thing we know, a bottle of Aussie juice is bearing down the straightaway of our glasses with,

Noon Winery Eclipse South Australia 2000
New World, well, sure, but restrained without …. oh, $^!+, yes, there it is, blueberry. Damn you, Grenache, you chameleon grape! Sweet notes of candied orange rind, tobacco, raspberry, and blackberry all hold hands with the blueberry and yes, Gawddamnit, more blueberry. 14% alc. Find this wine

Epoch Estate Wines “Veracity” Paderewski Vineyard Paso Robles Ca 2010
Another blended wine of 69% Grenache, 23% Mourvedre, 4% Counoise and 4% Syrah that lets Grenache pretend it can lead the pack. An attack of sweet fruit (almost too sweet) that segues into distinct and crisp flavors of tobacco, Asian 5 spice and blackberry with a long finish. Certainly the 15.9% alc. will carry it for a long time. Tannic now, but open to softening. A solid wine that won’t disappear for years. Find this wine

Clarendon Hills Grenache Clarendon Kangarilla Aus. 2003
Sweet and forward on the attack….. oh, let me guess, an Aussie. The 14.5% alc. suggests a timid Aussie. The finish is dirty. Definitely not in a class with Marcus Ambrose. If you want to finish last in the fantasy league, pick this or … Juan Pablo Montoya. Find this wine

Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf du Pape Rhone 2001 14.5% alc.
Corked and badly so. But then compared to the non-French uber Grenaches on the table, who can really tell? Find this wine

Ferrer Bobet Vinyes Velles Priorat 2009
Young yet and rich with strawberry and raspberry with good length and layers of flavors. Some orange zest takes the outer lane in the mid-palate and finish with smooth and smoky spice notes catching the draft. 14.5% alc. This is the only Grenache of the evening to show the cool strawberry complexion of Grenache. Find this wine

Sine Qua Non The Duel Estate Grenache Confessions Vineyard Santa Rita Hills Santa Barbara Ca. 2008
Cool bottle, but that doesn’t cut it in this company. This is a soft and plushy wine despite the alcohol; almost Dolly Parton like, and bouncing fulsome with 80% Grenache. Yet the Grenache throttle is reined in with 17% Syrah, 2% Viognier and 1% Roussanne. This is an enjoyable, not over blown wine…. or it could be I’ve just had too much Grenache. If I hadn’t before this wine, then I maxed out: 15.8% alc. Jim, who isn’t counting calories or BAC, makes ample use of his spit cup. Find this wine

The change that came over Bob all day was subtle at first. But through the afternoon, Bob took on a different look. I hadn’t noticed the change at first, but now, even through the heavy cloud of confected cherry and spice that hung in the Grenache soaked room, I could see that Bob is now possessed by something that just wasn’t him. Bob had become the Grenache Archangel of Darkness, coaxing, luring, whipping us into a Grenache induced frenzy. What he is asking of Grenache – with us as his guinea pigs – is more than unusual. It’s downright unnatural.

Asking Grenache to take celebrity status in a wine is like asking Denny Hamlin to stop whining, or asking Joey Logano to stop throwing water bottles. As much talent as Grenache has and as much as it can be a co-equal in a GSM blend, Grenache needs help. If we learn anything tonight it’s that Grenache can take a 65% lead in a wine only when its strongly supported by Syrah and almost only when in the hands of the French.

As for this non-French, edgy experiment, well, a palate can take only so much. All I could hear in my head – or was it rising from the back of my throat? – “Grenache, Grenache, Grenache! All I ever hear is Grenache!” The next thing I know someone is shouting, “BREAK FREE OF YOUR CHAINS OF GRENACHE!” The empty Allemand Cornas is hoisted like a holy relic that might have once been thrown at Jeff Gordon at a ‘Dega race and paraded as evidence – clear and beyond all reasonable doubt – that the Grenache experiment has failed. The crowd revolts against the domination of Grenache! It gets ugly …. or at least loud.

Whether what happened next was insanity or genius is hard to say, but daringly, the doctor prescribes a remedy of,

A. Rafanelli Winery Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Sonoma Co. Ca. 2001
The Zin is a happy, funky counterpunch to the Grenache mandate. At 12 years old, this Zin is a very claret tasting wine with brambly-esque, zinberry qualities. As if charging from the back of the pack, it weaves a path of blackberry, tobacco, zin funk, brambleberry, rhubarb, and spice – as in hot spices – from attack to finish. Next to the SQN, its 14.7% alc. seems almost cool and refreshing. Thank you, and bless your heart, Greg. Find this wine  NEXT =>

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