I came across Fore Family Vineyards during my last excursion to Lake County. An enjoyable experience at the tasting room’s downtown Kelseyville location, I was intimately hosted by both Jim and Diane Fore. (To be honest, it was 11am on a rainy Saturday morning — no one in their right mind was out wine tasting that day.) I tasted through a full line up of their current releases, but it was this GSM Rhone-style blend that, to me, elegantly displayed what their unique plot of Lake County has to offer.

About the Wine: The Fore Family’s Cobb Mountain property sits at just above 3,000 feet in elevation in the county’s Red Hills AVA. Despite everyone’s discouraging remarks that the land is “too high” and “nothing will grow there,” Jim has learned to work with what nature has provided him — to the benefit of his grapes, wines, and customers. The high elevation delivers solar intensity, yet remains cool due to the shade of various trees lining the vineyard. Steep slopes also mean deep, well-drained (volcanic) soils, perfect for growing his beloved Rhone grape varieties.

Fore Family Vineyards 2013 Cobb Mountain GSM is made from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre (exact percentages unknown) all harvested from their Cobb Mountain vineyards in the Red Hills AVA of Lake County. Each vineyard block was harvested, pressed, and aged separately then blended right before bottling.

14.9% ABV

148 cases produced

Flavor Profile: Immediately after opening the bottle of the Fore Family GSM there’s an orgasmic blend of herbs, flowers, and fruits with an underlining umami essence reminiscent of smoked salmon. The visual of this wine is purple velvet meets soft-ground brown — what I would call the perfect definition of maroon.

The initial scents are indulgent — pecan butter, brown sugar, baking spices. Swirl, sniff again, and the acidity comes through from the way too overripe boysenberries that seem to be soaking at the bottom. Tilt the glass, stick your nose way in there, and find some woodsy, earthy scents of crushed cardamon and walnut skins.

The initial palate is elegantly smooth, full of those bursting berries. But the wine is tannic, and mid-palate will bring a bit more texture from those earthy notes of cloves, pecans, walnuts. The finish is where you’ll find an acidic kick along with one more punch of tannins for a dry, solid, and enjoyable end. Close your lips around your tannic tongue and exhale through your nose. Here you’ll find a subtle aftertaste of ripe red fruits and vanilla.

Food Pairing: I paired the Fore Family Vineyards 2013 Cobb Mountain GSM with a cedar plank salmon, roasted vegetables, and rosemary infused white rice. The cedar-infused salmon did well to pull out those earthy aromas in the wine (cardamon, walnut skins, cloves). My roasted veggies included both red and golden beetroot. The soft texture as well as the sweetness of this vegetable enhanced the somewhat hidden fruit flavors in the wine as well as created an overall softer, rounder mouthfeel.

More Info: I purchased Fore Family Vineyards 2013 Cobb Mountain GSM from the winery. Retail: $32 For more information about the Fore Family and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Fore Family Vineyards website. And for more information about Lake County wines, please read my Lake County article in the SF Chronicle.

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