Filed under: General, Helix Wines, Reininger Wines, Wine Club, Winery
Ahhhh Grenache. I think this was the first wine that I ever saw for the second time in the toilet bowl after one too many pulls from the ol’ bag of Franzia at a frat party. Grenache isn’t a sleazy grape, though, and my recent experiences with it have been downright delightful. Originally from Spain (though you might hear differently if you ask an Italian), Grenache made a splash in California as an ever-popular Grandma grape in the early wine making days and has more recently come to the Columbia Valley AVA for use in Rhône blends like the Helix SoRho.
It is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content, but it needs to be carefully controlled in the vineyards. It tends to lack tannin, acid, and color due to it’s thin-skin and is usually blended with other varieties such as Cinsault and Mourvèdre, like in the SoRho, as well as Syrah and Tempranillo. Sadly, in the early days of US wine production, Grenache’s characteristics and high yields were perfect to make the dreaded jug wine, giving the poor grape kind of a bad rap. Some of the flavors we look for in our production of Grenache at Reininger are raspberries, strawberries, intense notes of black currant, black cherry, black olive, coffee, honey, leather, black pepper, and tar. Despite being one of the world’s most widely planted grapes, it only exists in Washington State within the Columbia Valley AVA. In the Helix SoRho, we like it because it adds body and fruitiness to complement all of those rich, gamey, and tannic characteristics found in Mourvedre and Cinsault.
Who’s ready for a recipe? Don’t worry…I’ve got a great one picked out for you.
Filed under: General, Helix Wines, Reininger Wines, Wine Club, Winery
“Mourvèdre” in France. “Mataró” in Spain. “Delicious” in my mouth.
There’s a lot of discussion about the so-called personality of wines. I, for one, believe in anthropomorphizing animals, vegetables, minerals, and the ilk, therefore I have no problem describing a varietal as I would a person. I see Mourvèdre as a moody, cynical, and most likely alcoholic person. It is late to ripen (late-bloomer) and has a beautiful bluish black, thick skin. I might liken this grape to the subtly sexy yet emotionally unavailable girl who is often caught smoking in places she’s not allowed. Sounds dreamy, right? Ok, so like most people who seem a little closed off in the beginning, there is often a jewel hidden beneath that crusty exterior, and they win you over in time with their strong personality and quirky sense of humor.
Mourvèdre’s thick, dark-skinned grape ideal for producing tannic wines that will probably be high in alcohol. It provides structure and a little softness when paired with Grenache, and most often showcases wild, gamey, and earthy flavors just kissed with soft red fruit. It can also have such intriguing flavors such blackberry, dark plum, chocolate, espresso, dark olive, truffles, and licorice. In the 2008 Reininger Columbia Valley Helix SoRho, it provides a great backbone of structure, boosts the color with it’s inky darkness, as well as serving as a stronghold for longevity since Mourvèdre doesn’t open up for the first few years. It is thought originate from Spain, though it definitely has an affinity for the French (don’t we all). It does well in the Columbia Valley AVA due to high heat, though it takes a truly skilled winemaker like Chuck to bring out this little devil’s shining personality.
Reininger’s next post : the wildly popular and versatile Grenache!
Filed under: General, Helix Wines, Recipe, Reininger Wines, Wine Club, Winery
GIMME A C!
Gimme a I!
Gimme an N!
Ok. Enough of that nonsense…it’s time to get down to some serious business, and by “business” I mean talking about one of the three delectable grapes that becomes the Helix SoRho. You are probably wondering about that ridiculous cheer above, but don’t fret, because it DOES tie in. Columbia Valley Cinsault is a lot like a cheerleader (don’t discredit me yet!), it’s soft, undeniably feminine, is a great team player, and even smells of strawberries. See? I’m not crazy. GGGOOO CINSAULT!
Cinsault (or Cinsaut), pronounced SAN-soh, is a varietal of grape often used for blending to add softness and bouquet and is the fourth most widely planted varietal in France. Cinsault has many different names, the most well-known being Hermitage from South Africa. Winepros.org says, “Wine made from Cinsault grapes can be very aromatic with a vaporous perfume that assails the nostrils and supple texture that soothes the palate. Fairly low in tannin, it is often made into rosé by itself or blended to brighten the fruit and tone down the harsher edges of carignan, in particular.” It often shows aromas of strawberry, red cherry, musk, gamey meat, and perfume. It has a particularly velvety mouth feel and very little tannic pull to dry out your mouth. It is a womanly wine in just about every way, shape, and form. Flavor-wise, you’ll taste the same summer strawberries from the nose, but also detect some darker red fruits: raspberries, currants, and ruby red cherries.
Next up I will introduce you to Cinsault’s rogue Rhône sidekick: the meaty, minty Mourvedre!
Filed under: Helix Wines, Reininger Wines, Wine Club, Winery
I have to admit that Izzie’s employee profile really inspired me to write about the Helix SoRho, which just happens to be not only her favorite Reininger wine, but mine as well. Why has this unassuming little bottle created such a stir amongst Reininger staff? The answer is simple; this Columbia Valley blend has great character, is unique for our valley (and our own production), and pairs extraordinarily well with food. I’ll even let you in on my secret…I really, REALLY didn’t like the first vintage of this wine. I found it too light, gamey, and almost bitter. I know now that, aside from the bitterness – which I attribute to a much younger palate…the same reason Taco Bell used to drive me wild – the lighter, meaty, rustic qualities of the SoRho are exactly what make it so great.
So what is the deal with this wine? The 2008 is a blend of Grenache (gren-aash), Mourvedre (MOOr-ved’r), and Cinsault (SAN-soh), which are all Southern Rhône varietals and, in various combinations that could include other grapes, make up the wildly popular Côtes du Rhônes. While the Helix SoRho is not a Côtes du Rhônes, much like sparkling white wines made outside of the Champagne region are not Champagne, it showcases the best qualities of those grapes and the very special terroir of the Columbia Valley, making it truly unique. The lightness of it doesn’t fatigue your palate as quickly as headier reds of the Columbia and Walla Walla Valleys, and it also makes it a easier to drink with meals composed of spicy sausages, game birds, rich cream sauces, and the like. If you are a Francophile at all, I strongly suggest that you try this. It is truly made for you and all of your sunshine-picnic, lavender fields, baguette-&-brie-eating daydreams. In the next few posts, I’ll go through the unique characteristics of each of these varietals and what they bring to the Helix SoRho, and, of course, I’ll follow it all up with a recipe for pairing this great wine with great food.