The boys at Crux Winery are loud and proud Rhone Rangers and, unlike the vast majority of their fellow troop members who’ve paved the path in Paso, these guys claim the Russian River Valley for their stomping grounds. As Rhone-style specialists it would be a crime not to include a GSM in the line-up. And, indeed, they do every year. I’ve tasted their 2013, helped them sort out their 2016, and let’s not forget their 2015 rosé of GSM — but let’s travel back in time to 2012, shall we, and see how these blends compare…

About the Wine: The Crux Winery 2012 GSM is made from 52% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 16% Mourvédre, 2% Petite Sirah harvested from the Russian River AVA in Sonoma County. Each vineyard lot was fermented separately, and each wine aged separately in neutral French oak barrels (with the Syrah aging in just 33% new French oak barrels).

14.3% ABV

Flavor Profile: Out of the bottle float deep scents of dark blackberries and blueberries smashed into wet soil. The Crux Winery 2012 GSM pours a light, but royal purple, settling into the glass with a hint more red for a cran-grape color. It’s quite light, luminescent in the center and fading to a pale fog toward the perimeter.

Initial aromas introduce wet tree bark, eucalyptus leaf, and a strong level of acidity hinting at something more. Swirl to find that something more includes a worcestershire-like umami, black cherry, cola, cedar wood, and tea leaf.

The Crux Winery 2012 GSM is like silk on the tongue straight-away, and slips along the palate just as elegantly through to the finish. Tannins are quite light, but certainly present, providing the backbone to this medium-bodied red wine. The acid is a solid medium level, working to elevate the simultaneously fruity and earthy flavors: tree bark, black cherry, boysenberry, eucalyptus, and a balsamic-reduction-like umami-sweetness. The finish is solid and clean, leaving just a trace aroma of a musky-manly cologne.

Food Pairing: I paired the Crux Winery 2012 GSM with a grilled turkey burger topped with caramelized onions and roasted red peppers, alongside a simple Mediterranean-style salad of spinach, cranberries, cucumber, and feta.

As the wine opened up during the course of the evening, I found that the “musky-manly cologne scent” gave way to a bit of smokiness in the back palate as well, which paired perfectly with the grilled burger and toasty bread. The burger itself — with it’s turkey meat, various herbal seasonings, and soft texture — gave the wine a certain roundness to the body that didn’t seem to exist when drinking on its own. Conversely, the salad greens seemed to have thinned out the wine’s texture, which leads me to believe that bitter greens, in the future, is not the way to go with this GSM.

More Info: I received the Crux Winery 2012 GSM Red Blend as a sample for review. (Cheers Steve and Brian!) Retail: $45. For more information about Crux Winery and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Crux Winery website.

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