Shatter 2011 an example of well-made Grenache

July 1, 2013

Let’s start this week with a bang. How about a 91-point $10 Olivares altos de la Hoya Monastrell Jumilla 2010? In the USA and France, the Monastrell varietal name is Mourvedre. Tanzer and Josh Raynolds both said 91 points. It is dark purple, redolent of berry preserve moderated by herbal and floral aromas. On the palate, blackberry and candied cherry flavors ride a grippy tannin, acid frame through a long finish. Will cellar at least eight years. Kumeu River Village NZ Chardonnay can be found under $200/case. A very enjoyable 90-point bottle, fruit aromas, along with a hint of hazelnut.

The palate is crisp with a ripe peach and flint highlight that provides a clean finish. Russian River Walter Hansel Alyce Cuvee 2010 was given a 94 by most and written up here last year when Tony Galloni wrote, “voluptuous, beautifully layered chardonnay.” I just sampled it again last week. Bright yellow color, opens to grapefruit, lemon zest, saffron, mint and a touch of minerals. On the palate, citrus and apple are undergirded by floral notes and minerality. Finishes dry with excellent stony astringency and more floral flavors. This, taut, concentrated chardonnay will cellar several years. Try to buy at $435/case or expect to pay $39. My friend David De Angelo asked what I thought of Dave Phinney’s I-1. I enjoy Phinney’s wine. Regulars will remember recommendations for Orin Swift the Prisoner.

I looked around and found a deal on a mixed case of 12 that includes five F-I, five E-1 and two Orrin Swift Prisoners for $195. The E-1 Espana is ripe blackberry, boysenberry with a faint smoky, meaty nuance.This is a great way to check out a star Napa winemaker.

Be on the lookout for a wine named Shatter, a collaboration of Phinney of Orin Swift  with Joel Gott of Joel Gott Wines to make a Grenache of grapes from Roussilon, in France, for the Trinchero Family Estates portfolio. All names on the rise in Cali. Shatter 2011 was a terrific example of well-made Grenache.

Opaque, red garnet-colored, it opens to blackberry and blueberry accented by lavender, oak-driven spice and a little vanilla. Evolved on the palate to Grenache fruit and blackberry flavors supported by plenty of smooth tannins.

Refined acid and more spicy oak provide a pervasive mouthfeel and follow through to a long, dry finish. If you are suffering sticker shock, take heart and look for 2011 Domaine LaFage Tessellae Old Vines Red Blend du Roussillon, a blend of 40 percent Syrah, 40 percent Grenache, 15 percent Mourvedre and 5 percent Grenache Gris and bottled unfiltered. Brooding in the glass, it opens to a lovely bouquet of garrigue, strawberries, black cherry and hints of spring flowers.

On the palate, black and red fruit, earthy, silky texture and full body. A ton of wine for $15. Recently, 2005 Jean Thévenet Domaine de la Bongran Viré Clessé was advertised as a 93-point bargain priced at $34/bottle if you bought a case of 12. Avoid due to poor QPR, especially for an 87-point wine. It is a very nice wine, and if you can find it priced under $28 it is worthwhile; my notes read: Drink now; caramel, honey, spiced apple flavors, finishes with more spiced apple and caramel. Hyatt Vineyard’s Zillah Gorilla Zinfandel 2010 is not available in Delaware due to our stupid, archaic and patronage-driven likker laws. However, it is sold in Maryland, and with a name like that and at $11/bottle I had to give it a try. I’m happy I did.

From the heart of the Yakima Valley in Washington comes an old-style Zin, raspberry, white pepper and plum aromas with a mouthful of blackberry, pomegranate, white pepper, coffee, cinnamon and plum, riding a well-balanced, jammy sweetness through a finish accented by blackberry and cherry notes. This will take time to find but will be well worth the effort.

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