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Full Pull

  • By Paul Zitarelli
    Full Pull Renegade, 2/12/2017

    (Renegade Grenache) Hello friends. We have the return today of a wine that has become a list mainstay; a killer Grenache (mostly) from the rocks of the Walla Walla Valley: I believe we’ve offered every vintage of this wine that has existed, beginning with the 2009 vintage and continuing through today. Why? Because it is exceedingly rare to find Washington Grenache at $15, especially one with a backbone from rocks district fruit. Now then, a quick reminder of what the Renegade program is all about. So, imagine a winery sitting on barrels of wine that they don’t want to release under their own label. There are a myriad of reasons why this could be the case. Regardless, Trey Busch (whose main label is Sleight of Hand Cellars) purchases the barrels, bottles the wine under his Renegade label, and frequently signs a non-disclosure agreement regarding the source of the juice. Here’s what we can disclose about this Grenache: 1. It mostly comes from a youngish vineyard in the rocks district of the Walla Walla Valley (same vineyard source as previous vintages), blended with a little bit of fruit from Snipes Mountain. Hence the Columbia Valley designation this year. 2. The rocks vineyard sells fruit to a very small number of wineries, all of them among the finest Rhone producers in Washington. The majority of this juice came from one of those three wineries. 3. This was fermented with 100% stems and aged for 16 months in neutral barrels. 4. This is delicious Grenache, evocative of its unique origins: the ancient cobbles of the Walla Walla River. And as I’ve mentioned so many times you’re probably bored of hearing it, 2014 was an outstanding vintage for value wines. Because it was both high-quality and high-yield, a lot of excess juice normally destined for higher-end bottlings was cascaded down to the value tier. The biggest winners in this situation: us. It clocks in at 14.5% listed alc and pours into the glass pale ruby, a reminder that Grenache in Washington can look quite delicate (almost like Pinot Noir), especially if it’s not blended with deeper-pigmented Syrah. That paleness, however, belies the power and richness inherent to this wine. It begins with a nose of raspberry and Kalamata olive, pink pepper and herbes de provence (with extra lavender); an attractive nose, and very evocative of Grenache. In the mouth, what you notice right away is the complete lack of rough edges. This is a soft, easy drinker, such a charming wine texturally that you could be forgiven for missing its complexity. But it’s there in spades. This is characterful, well-priced Grenache, and it put me in mind of an olive-studded lamb tagine.

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