Wine Reflections: Merisi Wines 2016 Los Carneros Grenache
Grenache shows a subtle, elegant side
When you think of full-blooded Grenache you might think of Spain. Wines that are a touch on the heavier side, powerful and spicy. You may think of Grenache as a backbone to the typical Rhone blend, but needs the likes of Mourvedre and Syrah to even things out. Most of the time it seems to lack something or it has become so bold in its singular form that it becomes overbearing as we often see in California.
Dare I say though that Mandy Donovan’s take on Grenache is something quite unique and out of this world. It is a wine that is subtle and elegant and yet still packs the fruit-forward punch you would expect from a wine that has been drenched in the Carneros sunshine. Hardly do I ever go for a single varietal, 100% Grenache without some pause or with the desire to have a wine that is a full-throttle joyride. I was not expecting a wine that felt closer to zipping around cobbled European streets on a Vesper. The light-bodied red wine that is the Merisi Wines Grenache feels more Burgundy than Rhone, and certainly something rare for California. It is delightful, fun, and yet effortlessly stylish.
This nod to a style closer to the masters of European wine is not uncommon in California. Contemporary winemakers in California have often taken up the minimalist and natural approach to winemaking that was well known in Europe for centuries. Mandy Donovan is no stranger to a lighter hand and letting the grapes speak for themselves, and it pays off with an unexpected triumph of wine in this case. The Merisi Grenache is fresh on the nose and the palate, with a clean finish of white pepper brushing over the bright red fruits. The Merisi Wines Grenache is a perfect example of how the natural approach to winemaking can result in a refined and distinctive wine in the best hands.
This is a wine that should be shared with a modern wine enthusiast, someone who is as much a fan of the story and process as they are with the wine. Share it over a discussion about the future of California wine, the major role women are playing in the industry (especially as vignerons!), and how the rules of wine that make us look for anything typical are broken so easily and so much fun when done like this!
Final Verdict: Love it!