When I visited Amador Cellars back in February of 2017, I was enamored by everything I tasted that day. But what I ultimately came home with was the Amador Cellars 2012 Reserve GSM. As someone who tastes a lot of Rhone wines, attends the annual SF Rhone Ranger event, and just generally enjoys a good GSM, I was so impressed by the elegance this small, family-owned winery finessed into the blend. So when the opportunity came for me to taste the varietals individually, I snatched it. Today I bring to you the G in the GSM…

About the Wine: The Amador Cellars 2014 Reserve Grenache Noir is made from 100% Grenache Noir grapes — Tablas Creek clone — harvested from the Long family’s estate vineyards located in Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley.

15% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Amador Cellars 2014 Reserve Grenache Noir and become immediately immersed in aromas. Breathe in blackberries, boysenberries, wet wood, damp soil, and a bit of mushroom-slash-fungi funk. The wine presents a rouge-meets-maroon shade on the pour, settling into the glass with a very light rouge hue. It is completely penetrable and shows just an aura of burnt orange around the outermost edge. And, I must add, those aromas keep wafting upward.

Initial aromas, once in the glass, are of cranberries, herbs, and a strong acidity. Swirl and breathe in wild strawberries, dried and powdered rose petals, a bit of bramble. Indeed, the strong earthy dryness of the nose is almost complete opposite of the dank wetness assumed by the bottle aromatics. Take the nose just above the glass, and here find the rich, jamminess of the fruits you once sensed.

The palate of the Amador Cellars 2014 Reserve Grenache Noir is immediately spice-filled, pricking the palate and keeping the taste buds at attention through to the lingering finish. The tannins are present, just slightly touching the tip of the teeth, but not tangible or tacky or clinging at all. There’s just enough to give the Grenache a solid medium body. The acid is powerful, keeping the palate open and the flavors fully alive.

Dominant flavors are of smoke and char umami, red chili, red cherry, dried tree branch, dried cardamom, nut skins, and red cherry that melts into that chili heat and just a touch of caramel during that finish.

Food Pairing: I paired the Amador Cellars 2014 Reserve Grenache Noir with cedar-smoked salmon with sticky orange-bourbon glaze, roasted golden beetroots and fennel tossed with balsamic reduction and toasted pecans, and simple pan-grilled broccolini.

This wine loved this food without a doubt. The soft, oily nature of the salmon did well to calm the mouthfeel of the wine, giving it a more rounder mouthfeel. The balsamic as well as the bourbon glaze, perhaps because of the acidity, highlighted the fruit components in the wine that, on its own, were a bit hidden underneath all the earthy spices.

And the meal loved this wine. The Grenache itself had some smoke and — for the millionth time — heat, that actually elevated those subtle components in the dish.

Perfect pairing full stop.

More Info: I received the Amador Cellars 2014 Reserve Grenache Noir as a gift. (Cheers Jim!) Price: Not yet available; Price for 2013 vintage: $30. For more information about Amador Cellars, their wines, and to purchase their available wines directly, please visit the Amador Cellars website.

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