Sunday, March 7, 2010

Grenache 2007 from Denner Vineyards

Paso Robles is one of the most exciting wine regions in California. Over the last decade, the number of wine producers has more than doubled. There are now 180+ producers in Paso Robles, and more operations are expected to open up in the coming years. Most interesting is the Paso Robles West, the cooler and rolling landscape west of Highway 101, where Zinfandel and Rhône varietals thrive on the hillsides. In this region, you’ll find abundant of limestone or mudstone (a soil type rich in calcium) which is very rare in California. The soils and the cooler climate definitely add structure and personality to the wines. They are normally rich, ripe och huge, still with a good portion of tannins and a lively natural acidity.
Still the “old timers” (well, they’re not really that old) such as Justin Vineyards and Tablas Creek Vineyards, co-owned by Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, make wines of qualities that are anywhere from recommended to outstanding, and both of them make wines that are able to evolve well in the bottle.
Denner Vineyards is a new winery, founded by the business man Ron Denner, who spared no cost in the development of his fabulous vineyard and winery. It perfectly planned into the smallest detail. It’s really a hit! Denner sells most of the grapes from his 63 hectare vineyard and among the lucky winemakers who are on that list you’ll find Matt Trevisan of Linne Calodo, another great Paso Robles producer (Matt focus on Zinfandel). They also sell grapes to Justin for their top wine Isosceles and to the highly recommended winery Villa Creek.
The wines of Denner are rich and intense, pure and very elegant, and with a lot of personality. I like to their lovely balance, their length, and (with some air on most of their wines) the almost French flavor profile. Production reaches around 4 500 to 5 000 cases annually, but the capacity stretches more towards 10 000 to 12 000 cases per year.

2007 Grenache / 91-92 p
This is a cuvée of approximately 85 per cent Grenache, 10 per cent Syrah and a splash of Couniose, and a fraction of the Grenache is fermented in whole bunches, which add a slightly herbacious quality to the wine. It’s so aromatic that the wild raspberry and sweet cherry fruit almost jump in your face, but still it is lovely and elegant and very true to its varietal character. Notes of black pepper as well as just a hint of licorice is also present, but the oak is extremely well integrated. On the palate, it’s as intense as on the nose, lush and ripe with silky tannins, good acidity (which is needed in a Grenache wine to make is elegant) and the taste lingers for a minute. Boy, this is a textbook Grenache, and it’s just delicious. I’ve tasted it a few times, and my recommendation is to not decant in too much in advance – the finest aromatic notes may then disappear. Pour it directly from the bottle, and enjoy how it develop in the glass.
Drink it 2010-2015.

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