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Posts from the ‘Grenache’ Category

2011 Force Majeure Collaboration Series Grenache – Bottle Notes

Force Majeure was founded in 2004 by Paul McBride and made its name pairing some of Washington’s highly acclaimed winemakers with fruit from one of Washington’s highly acclaimed vineyards, Ciel du Cheval.  The winery recently transitioned from Collaboration wines to Estate wines. Todd Alexander, formerly of Bryant Family Vineyards, is the winemaker for the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. There is also a second label that was introduced last year named Parabellum.

85% Grenache and 15% Mourvedre made by James Mantone of Syncline.

Bright crimson in color. 15.9% ABV. Subdued nose of red fruits, gravel and kirsch. Full bodied with optimal acidity and great mouthfeel. Richly textured and well balanced. Cherries, cassis, black raspberries and white pepper on the palate. The finish is long and pure. Pretty wine and the Mourvedre might be the here here. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Force Majeure is one of the most exciting wineries in the state. The winery is still accepting names for the mailing list .

I’m going to miss the CS wines and in particular the Merlot dominant CS IV but am excited about the direction Paul McBride has in mind for Force Majeure.

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2012 Outpost Grenache Howell Mountain – Bottle Notes

Outpost Wines was established in 1998 and sits on a pristine piece of land atop Howell Mountain 2200 feet above Napa Valley. Thomas Rivers-Brown has been the winemaker from the start and has gained further acclaim making highly sought after wines for Schrader, Rivers-Marie and many others. Besides Grenache, Outpost also produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.

Light red in color. 15.9% ABV. Pretty nose of red fruits, sage and white pepper. Light body with medium to strong acidity. This wine is a different beast than a TRB Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. Light, delicate and ethereal. Fresh strawberries, raspberries and cherries on the palate. The finish is long and sappy. Probably best in the near term. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 91 points.

Cellartracker reviews for this wine are all over the place. Perhaps there were good barrels and bad barrels or perhaps one of the perils of crowd sourcing wine reviews. If you have bottles you want to sell to me for a song I am happy to take them.

Crowdsourcing Wine Reviews – Trust Your Palate is one from the archives but relevant here.

Outpost wines are only available via the mailing list and sell out quickly. This Grenache is a buy for me year in and year out. Don’t miss the Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from True Vineyard. Highly recommended.

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2008 Cayuse God Only Knows – Bottle Notes

Cayuse was founded in 1997 by Christophe Baron, a native of France who grew up in family of winemakers in Champagne. Baron studied viticulture in Burgundy and Champagne, and had ambitions to make Pinot Noir in Oregon. However, on a visit to Walla Walla he found property that he believed would be perfect for growing grapes and decided to purchase the land.

90% Grenache and 10% “God only knows” sourced from Armada Vineyard.

Dark rust in color. 14.2% ABV. Savory nose of red fruits, olives, incense and smoke. Medium body with light to medium acidity. Plush and somewhat funky with great underlying structure. Cherries, saline, cabbage and grilled meats on the palate. The wine has a stunning finish. World class Grenache. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 95 points.

The waiting list for the Cayuse mailing list is huge and you need to be well-connected to get a bottle via retail. Either way, current vintages are worth the hunt! Earlier this year Christophe Baron finally made the cover of the Wine Spectator. Cayuse, Horsepower and No Girls are dialed in and Christophe has a new project and vineyard in the works. Expect to hear about Hors Categorie and Fiddleneck Vineyard in the next year or so.

I blogged about Cayuse previously in The Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings and Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5.

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2008 Force Majeure CS II Red Blend – Bottle Notes

Previously known as Grand Rêve, Force Majeure was founded in 2004 by Paul McBride and Ryan Johnson. Force Majeure pairs some of Washington’s highly acclaimed winemakers with fruit from one of Washington’s highly acclaimed vineyards, Ciel du Cheval. The winemakers contributing to the Collaboration Series is a Who’s Who of Washington winemakers including Ben Smith, Carolyn Lakewold, Chris Gorman, James Mantone, Mark McNeilly, Mike McMorran and Ross Mickel.

Made by Ross Mickel of Ross Andrew winery the wine is 48% Grenache, 38% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre, 1% Viognier and 1% Roussanne.

Dark purple in color. 14.4% ABV. Smoke, grilled meats, charcoal and black fruits on an amazing nose. Great mouthfeel and the perfect amount of acidity. Black cherry, game, white pepper, anise and citrus on the palate. Impeccably balanced and complex with tons of structure. I’m hard pressed to recall a better Southern Rhone style blend from the state of Washington. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 95 points.

In just a few short years Force Majeure has become one of the top 5 Syrah producers in Washington. The rest of the lineup is pretty stellar as well.

Force Majeure warrants your attention and (as I write this) the winery is still accepting names for their mailing list.

In other news Force Majeure recently announced the hiring of Todd Alexander, formerly of Bryant Family Vineyards, as the winemaker for the Force Majeure Estate wines. Ryan Johnson has left the winery and started a vineyard consulting company. Finally, a new facility for the winery should be up and running in time for the September Release Party. More to come on all of the above.

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Baby Cayuse or Does No Girls Stand on It’s Own?

No Girls Wines was originally founded as a collaboration between Cayuse owner and vigneron Christophe Baron and general manager Trevor Dorland. The first release of the wine was with the 2008 vintage. Two wines, a Syrah and Grenache from La Paciencia Vineyard, were released. Over time the winemaking has transitioned from Christophe Baron to Elizabeth Bourcier.

I recall vividly when the first release email for No Girls was sent to existing Cayuse mailing list members. I hesitated in responding to the email thinking that this project sounded really similar to Cayuse. That hesitation has earned me a 3 year spot on the No Girls waiting list.

This past week I had the opportunity to try the ’09 No Girls Grenache side by side with the ’09 Cayuse God Only Knows Grenache. The wines have much in common. La Paciencia Vineyard is adjacent to the Armada Vineyard which is the fruit source for the God Only Knows. La Paciencia was planted in 2003 and Armada in 2001. Elizabeth Bourcier is now the sole Vigneron but her style is clearly influenced by her work with Christophe.

The No Girls Grenache had tremendous purity of fruit with flavors of cherry liqueur, strawberries and raspberries.

In contrast the God Only Know showed more of the gamy, meaty qualities I have always associated with Cayuse. There were secondary notes of umami, mineral, strawberries and raspberries.

Both wines are exceptional and should age well for at least another 3-5 years. If you need scores I’d put each in the 93-94 point range.

There is no question that the wines are distinct from each other. At the same time though it is not lost on me that they also have so much in common. This is just a single datapoint though. I suspect that over the coming years the No Girls will diverge from Cayuse as Elizabeth further develops her own style. If and when I am offered an opportunity to buy No Girls I will not hesitate this time.

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2010 Bodegas Alto Moncayo Campo de Borja – Bottle Notes

Bodegas Alto Moncayo is a joint venture of Jorge Ordonez, Bodegas Borsao and others, in conjunction with winemaker Chris Ringland. The youngest vines of Alto Moncayo are 35 years old and the oldest vineyards are over 90 years old. Their focus is exlusively on Garnacha.

Opaque purple in color. 16% ABV. Heady aromas of raspberry liqueur, smoke, violets and chocolate. Full bodied, rich, lush and powerful. Tremendous extract and viscosity. Raspberry, blueberry, vanilla, anise and chocolate covered cherries on the palate. A palate staining wine that is not for the faint of heart. That being said, this wine is right in my wheelhouse.

My rating: 93 points.

A great value at $37 or so. I’ll be looking to buy at least a half case to enjoy over the next 3-5 years.

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2010 Carlisle Three Birds – Bottle Notes

Carlisle Winery & Vineyards was founded in 1998 by Mike and Kendall Officer. Their passion is clear: Small lots of Zinfandel and Syrah from exceptional, historic vineyards.

The wine is 80% Grenache sourced from Teldeschi and Rossi Ranch Vineyards, 15% Mourvèdre from Bedrock Vineyard and 5% Syrah. 15.5% ABV. Bright crimson in color. Intoxicating aromas of raspberry liqueur, kirsch and flowers. Lush red fruit and exceptional balance. Crushed red fruits, licorice, spice and cranberries on the palate. Really delicious domestic Grenache. Drink over the 5 years. Truly a great value at $27 from the winery.

My rating: 92 points.

Current vintages of the various Carlisle wines are available via the mailing list, which is exceptionally long. Several retail outlets in California stock Carlisle, but you need to check with them at the time the winery releases their wines in the Spring and Fall.

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2008 Grand Rêve Vintners / Force Majeure Collaboration Series V – Bottle Notes

Previously known as Grand Rêve, Force Majeure was founded in 2004 by Paul McBride and Ryan Johnson. Force Majeure pairs some of Washington’s highly acclaimed winemakers with fruit from one of Washington’s highly acclaimed vineyards, Ciel du Cheval. The winemakers contributing to the Collaboration Series is a Who’s Who of Washington winemakers including Ben Smith, Carolyn Lakewold, Chris Gorman, James Mantone, Mark McNeilly, Mike McMorran and Ross Mickel.

The 2008 CS V is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah. Aged 15 months in French Burgundy barrels (100% new). 15.5% ABV. The wine was made by Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery. Bright purple in color. Black fruits, pepper and flowers on the nose. Raspberry liqueur, tar, stones, garrigue and spice on the palate. This wine has definitely picked up some weight since I last had it a year or so ago. The once bright flavors seem more dark and brooding now. Substantial tannins. Decant for several hours or better yet cellar the wine for another 2-4 years.

My rating: 93 points.

Force Majeure warrants your attention and (as I write this) the winery is still accepting names for their mailing list.

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2005 Outpost Grenache – Bottle Notes

Outpost was established in 1998 and sits on a pristine piece of land atop Howell Mountain 2200 feet above Napa Valley. Thomas Rivers-Brown has been the winemaker from the start and has gained further acclaim making highly sought after wines for Schrader, Rivers-Marie and many others. Besides Zinfandel, Outpost also produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.

The Grenache is estate-grown on their Howell Mountain property. Brick red in color. 15.3% ABV. Figs, pepper, plums and fresh tomatoes on the nose. Raspberry, kirsch, asian spices, strawberry, tea, garrigue and leather on the palate. This wine appears to be fully evolved. Since I tried my first bottle of this almost five years ago I still think this about as close to Châteauneuf-du-Pape as California Grenache can get. Drink over the next year or so.

My rating: 91 points.

Outpost wines are only available via the mailing list and sell out quickly. Highly recommended.

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2008 No Girls La Paciencia Grenache – Bottle Notes

No Girls Wines is a partnership between famed Cayuse vigneron Christophe Baron and longtime friend and Cayuse general manager, Trevor Dorland. The fruit comes from the Cayuse La Paciencia vineyard, which means patience—appropriate as the project was ten years in the making. The vines are tightly spaced and planted on an angle, giving No Girls a profile all its own.

The name No Girls comes from a mid-19th century building Christophe purchased. Just past the main entrance, at the top of a flight of stairs, the words “no girls” were painted on the wall. The decades old sign was a symbol that this house of ill repute had been shut down. The wine label is an actual photograph.

You could literally spend an entire evening smelling this wine. Cherries, tar, grilled meats and Herbs de Provence on the nose. Very silky mouthfeel with cherries, raspberries, salumi, olives, spice and crushed stone. The acidity on this wine is exceptional. The finish is exquisite. The wine is tremendous now, and should age beautifully for up to a decade.

I hesitate to compare this wine to Cayuse, but the similarity to the God Only Knows Grenache is unmistakeable.

My rating: 95 points, with upside potential in a year or so

The wine is already unobtainable unless you saw the initial release email in the first 90 seconds. Sign up for the waiting list. Be patient.

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