Alright fellas, here’s the dish …. and I don’t mean dinner. On second thought, that is kind of what I mean. I’m talking about the dish on Valentine’s Day, and even though Anya did a stellar write-up of one of the most important components of what should be your Valentine’s Day equation (aka bubbly), I feel this “holiday” warrants some more attention, even if it is a wee bit belated. After all, isn’t that what Feb 14th is all about, giving and receiving attention? Furthermore, I’m going to be so bold as to suggest that, aside from the bubbly, you may need a little extra help in the romance department. Now now, don’t take this the wrong way, I’m sure you’re a regular Casanova when you want to be. However, as a lady-being, I’ve noticed that even the best romantic intentions are sometimes, well, just way off. Case in point, my last boyfriend decided that a great way to celebrate my birthday (a milestone birthday no less) would be to take me camping in the middle of nowhere, get sunburned, cook me corndogs, and teach me how to use a folding chair in such a way as to facilitate nature’s call. Sorry, TMI!! My point is that, A) I’m a total sissy city girl and B) As cliché as it may be, when it comes to romance, wining and dining (um, like in a dining room with a table, chairs, and candles) is still one of the best ways to woo that special someone in your life. Of course, once the wheels are set in motion they don’t just keep rolling themselves. You gotta keep that vino flowing! So what ELSE are you going to have on hand once you get through those 4-5 bottles of Lamiable Brut Rosé? Well, I’m going to speak for all lovers (because I’m the one writing, dangit) and recommend one of the sassiest, spiciest, dare-I-say sexiest wines on the planet….Which is pretty much anything with a hefty dose of Grenache. Oh Grenache!! How I love thee… let me count the ways. I’m not kidding, if I could (and my lawyer friend in L.A. seems to think I can… Gotta love California), I would marry Grenache. Although, if you’re like most people, you’d probably just assume drink it. As such, you have a multitude of fantastic options, none of which are mutually exclusive. So stop waiting for Cupid to take care of your romantic needs, and instead, head down to TWH and check out some of my favorite Grenache-based wines.
2006 Domaine de Gournier Grenache Noir- This 100% Grenache cuvee contains fruit that is all hand-harvested and vinified in stainless steel tanks to focus on the freshness and purity of the Grenache, which means spicy, juicy, gorgeous red fruit. And at less than $7 per bottle, it’s cheap, easy, and a hit at parties (er, private parties if ya get my drift). It’s the “Real Housewives” of wine and who doesn’t love that?!
2005 Domaine de Fondreche Cotes du Ventoux O’Sud- I cannot emphasize enough how much I HEART this producer. Everything he makes gives me a warm fuzzy feeling and the O’Sud is no exception. Sébastien Vincenti, a protégé of André Brunel, is without a doubt the leader in quality in this southern Rhône appellation. The quality of this 65% Grenache, 35% Syrah blend comes from the 30+ year old vines and the ridiculously meticulous hand-picking and sorting action going on in the vineyard. Straight up L-O-V-E in a bottle.
2007 T-Vine Cellars Napa Valley Grenache- A self-proclaimed “seeker of stillness” winemaker Greg Brown has certainly managed to achieve anything BUT as he shakes things up in Napa. Maybe that’s part of his Buddha-like M.O. though… i.e. Shake and you shall receive stillness? Whatever it is he’s doing, he’s doing it right. This is perhaps the best Grenache ever produced in California, dripping with raspberry and strawberry in the mouth, a hint of candied fruit on the nose, and a warm licorice spice on the finish. This wine reminds me of a really good first kiss…. it just makes you smile.
No discussion on Grenache would be complete without mentioning Chateauneuf-du-Pape. That said, there are two producers that are pretty much always on my mind. The first is Domaine Font de Michelle. Aside from my personal affinity for these wines, their 2005 CNP was recently given major accolades in Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, where he so eloquently describes how the “Sexy Asian spices and incense complement fresh strawberry and raspberry preserves on the nose” and the “luscious, alluringly sweet red berry flavors offer liqueur-like intensity but are firmed by juicy minerality….Very suave.” Who knew Stephen was such a romantic? Is he single?!
The other, and in no way inferior, CNPs that I love are none other than those of André Brunel. For the sake of consistency, his 2005 CNP is a terrific example of super-ripe, old-vine Grenache displaying characteristics of cherries and blackberries alongside classic Provençal spices and herbs. Like all of André’s wines, it is supple, open in style, and shows profound complexity. Le sigh…..
2007 Domaine Mas Lavail Maury Rouge Late Harvest Grenache- Hailing from one of the warmest and driest grape-growing regions on the planet, this 100% Grenache dessert wine in half bottle will give any Port a run for its money. This wine oozes red fruit, ages well, and releases every combination of cocoa imaginable. Have it with everything from duck & cranberry sauce to blue cheese, or even a good cigar… But it is at its best with desserts containing fruits or chocolate. I don’t speak Spanish, but in this heavily Catalan-influenced region of France, I think they’d say this wine is “Muy Delicioso”!