The Good, the Bad and the Grenache

Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge, others just gargle. ~Robert Anthony

Yes, I'm the kind of wine-guy who likes to gargle with Sauvignon Blanc before heading off to a tasting, and no I didn't swallow. But now that you have that colorful image in your brain [you're welcome] it's time to get down and dirty with one of my favorite grapes, Grenache.

And yes each one of these wines is high-alcohol; like the one pictured above sporting a whopping 15% [oh-my] or very near 15%; so save me the crocodile tears and the fits of anguish over the whole, wines are "getting-to-hot" and out of balance nonsense. Each of the following wines I'll be reviewing today sport a balanced approach, although not necessarily a tasty one, even with the high [abv] alcohol by volume.

Okay, so I received these wines last year as samples [and so did a whole lot of other wine blog folks], and I'm just now getting around to reviewing them. Each wine has three things in common; all three had Joel Gott as their winemaker, all three are Grenache, and all three are from the same vintage, 2010.

Now that said, in today's review spotlight will be, Shatter, Alakai, and The Show. As I said, Grenache is one of my favorite grapes, and I know you're not supposed to have favorites, but I do so get over it. Now speaking of favorites, only one of the three wines in today's spotlight tripped my trigger, the other two "meh" they were okay.

1. 2010 Garnacha Calatayud, Spain, "The Show": Typically I'm all over wines like this, their flavor, complexity and down-right feel-good wine drinking is their hallmark. But not so this time, to SAVE on costs, 80% of the wine is fermented in concrete tanks, with 20% aged in newish oak. My initial impression, that grapes from a 40-year-old vineyard site would be packed with potential, but sadly, it lacked that oomph, again, not much there, there. My score on this wine is 84 points, this is one "Show" I'd like to forget about seeing. Price Range: $13 - $20 most places. Note: This wine is apparently no longer available, but you're not missing anything. I'd recommend staying away from their other selections as well, plonk.

2. 2010 Alakai California Red Wine: Again another wine with significant potential, a rocking Rhone-Zone blend featuring; 77% Grenache, 17% Syrah, 4% Mo-ved, and a drop of Petite Sirah. This time around, barrel aging was employed, but the grapes grabbed for this mission; could not bring home the cat. I was sadly disappointed in how this wine showed overall, not much there, there at all, just a thin veneer of what could have been.  But no surprise, Joel Gott helped out on this project, his wines leave much to be desired. I found the wine underwhelming and disjointed. Not sure if it would be worth the wait, but a bit more time bottle could allow flavors to integrate a bit more. It’s not bad, but not stellar enough to make me reach for my wallet either and my score 84 points. Price: $18

3. 2010 Shatter Grenache, Languedoc-Roussillon, France: Now dear reader, this is how you do it, and do it right. If you want to drink wine, one who boxes well above its weight class, then this is your ticket to Pay-Per-View wine-stopping excitement. This wine is a result of first-time collaboration with Mr. Dave Phinney [of Prisoner fame] and Joel Gott, but it would appear Mr. Phinney's now iconic style took the lead. Do you need a prime example of the brilliance awaiting you from the Cotes du Roussillon zone, then look no further. This wine produced on steep hillside vineyards, planted 60 years [black, fractured schist] ago near a small town in Roussillon, in a place called Mauray. So duh, no guessing why this wine is number one, priced higher than the others two reviewed above, and why it beat the snot out those other two poseurs.

The wine had me from the word go, soon as I popped the cork on this bad-boy, I knew it was game on. In the glass; this wine is sporting a nearly opaque ruby colored core, while inviting red-berry aromas to escape easily from the glass, welcoming the first slurp. From the moment this bottle is uncorked to the last drop, this wine is nothing but Grenache goodness at its best. Soft French oak nicely is woven into the wines rich dark and red fruit core; you barely even realize it's there. The finish is long, lasting and it drives deep. In a word this wine is seamless.

Well worth the price of admission at the SRP of $31, but you're in luck if you live in San Diego. Because this 93 point wine is just coming back into stock at one of my favorite retailer's Vintage Wines and I just confirmed they do sell this wine for $27 [btw, they can ship if you live out-of-state].
Do want to read the story behind the Shatter Collaboration? If so click here.

Full Disclosure: As I've stated above, the wines seen in the review above were sent to me as samples for the review process. And two, I do not work for Vintage Wines in any capacity, but they probably wish I did, ha. Until next time folks remember to sip long and prosper cheers


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