I just realized that I haven’t written about Grenache since the 2004 Les Cailloux Châteauneuf. And I’ve never done an affordable Grenache based wine at all. This is interesting (semi-ridiculous) because the southern French, Rhone-Style wines are one of our specialties, and we work hard to offer great value in this category. I think maybe I’ve ignored them because I drink them so regularly, and I assume everyone already knows about them. Or maybe it’s because many of them are similar, and I needed one that stood out from the pack for it to warrant an email. Well this is that wine. I believe David fell in love with it first, but it wasn’t long before all of us were fawning over the bin that held the 2005 Les Palombieres. I’m not selling our other country French wines short, but this is special. I think it’s the Mourvedre, no I know it’s the Mourvedre. It gives the wine that extra detail layer and spice that makes it about more than soft, sumptuous fruit, though that is nice, too. For those of you who enjoy southern Rhone wine, those of you who love finding extra complexity in their everyday wine, and especially for those of you who fit into both these groups. $11.38 with the case discount makes this a serious contender for the best value Rhone style wine I’ve drunk this year.
My wife and I drank this with homemade burritos. Some of you are saying to yourselves, “There are three things wrong with that statement.” One: “Why does he keep writing about burritos in his emails. This is like the 3rd time. What’s wrong with him?” I don’t know. Two: “Who makes burritos at home in San Francisco?” It’s true there are plenty of good burritos to be had for cheaper than it costs to assemble all those ingredients, but there’s something to be said for the ritual of home-burrito-assemblage. Plus they started out as tacos, and my wife switched the wrappings at the last minute. Three: “Who drinks wine with burritos? Aren’t you supposed to drink beer?” No. You are not. We default to beer and think that beer is good until 20 minutes after we reach the end of the burrito. We talk of burrito comas, but I don’t mind a little drowsiness. I fear burrito bloat. San Francisco burritos are big, especially if there is rice involved, and the last thing you need it the expansive property of beer in the equation. Food/beverage matching extends beyond your nose and palate; you have to think about the pairing in the confines of your stomach. Wine is much kinder to your system, and can even protect against burrito bloat. Note: The Wine House does not endorse any claims that wine protects against burrito bloat. This advice is meant only for entertainment purposes, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of a real doctor. If burrito bloat persists, please stop eating burritos.
The Palombieres went well with the burrito. The fruitiness of the Grenache allowed the wine to hold its own against the heat, and the Mourvedre brought spice to the spice. My real point in bringing up burritos (and opening myself up for criticism as San Franciscans can be very out-spoken/opinionated re: their burrito habits) is to point out the wine is very versatile. I like to call it a mini-Châteauneuf du Pape though it is not from the Rhone Valley, and it’s definitely not as boozy/extracted as some examples produced from this famous appellation these days, so it’s actually friendly with a lot more food. This is one of those bottles that acts special for those occasions (oversized dinner/holiday parties) that need more than just “house” from your wine, and that is priced low so you can open more than one bottle. You can pour it all night long at this price. – Ben Jordan
I really like that soft, silky strawberry, cherry fruit that emerges from a good Grenache, and I’ve always found these wines function across a wide range of palates. I know Mourvedre is a very late to ripen, but I think this wine is a good argument for including it in as many Rhone blends as possible. It really adds depth to the wine bringing a dark, earthier flavor as well as structure and spice. It certainly makes the wine more serious and complex. The vines are around 30 years and older, and the maturity shows in the depth of flavor here. I recommend it as a wine to drink if you like high quality wine at a great price, but I’d also recommend it if you have an occasion where you know you have a diversity of tastes. There’s plenty of fruit for those folks that subsist on California and Aussie wines, and the earth and garrigue in the wine are classic details that will delight your Euro-phile guests. It’s a wine that everyone can enjoy, and that is important this time of year. Who wants to hear, “Do you have anything else that’s a little more … and a little less …?” It’s hard enough keeping glasses full without having to worry about putting all sorts of different wines on the table.