When a wine is good. No. When a wine is outstanding. Full-on, stop eating, stop talking, focus all senses on the wine in hand — outstanding. It makes you want to understand where it came from, how it was produced, and — most importantly — who made it. This. This Passagio Wines 2014 Grenache. This is one of those wines. Thank you to Cindy Cosco, owner and winemaker of Passaggio Wines, for sharing this with me. I honestly can’t wait to meet you in person so I can hear (and taste) your story in person and share it with my little wine-loving world. Cheers!

About the Wine: Passaggio Wines 2014 Grenache is made from 100% Grenache grapes harvested from Heringer Estate Vineyard in Clarksburg.

For those unfamiliar with one of California’s smallest AVAs, I recently had the chance to dive deep into Clarksburg County wines and wineries and was impressed by how obvious the terroir and climate affect the grapes grown and wines produced. It’s characterized by the Sacramento River delta, which not only supplies nutrients to the clay and loam soils found in the area, but also pulls in fresh air from the San Francisco Bay. The result is a fairly steady, moderate climate with little to no frost or fog. Perfect for warm-weather loving grapes like, well, Grenache.

The grapes for Passaggio Wines 2014 Grenache were hand picked, de-stemmed, and sorted. The pressed juice was fermented with a Rhone yeast strand then aged in neutral French oak barrels.

13.3% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pull out the cork and put your nose just above the open bottle. A deep breath in will give you savory scents of strawberries just ripe enough to pick. In the glass you’ll find the most unique shade of red — it’s a faded red with almost a brownish tint around the perimeter and luminosity in the center that gives it a kind of peach-y hue. And it is gloriously translucent.

The aromas are just as light and bright as the visual. The wine emits primary aromas of lighter red fruits — strawberry, raspberry — along with the stems and leaves from which they hang. Swirl and sniff again, there are hints of baking spices lingering in the background and, maybe, just the slightest smattering of milk chocolate.

For all its translucency, it’s lightness and brightness, this wine has a real presence on the palate: there’s a medium line of acidity that rides from start to finish; tannins maintain a steady structure; and there’s a lingering, tongue-tingling minerality. This medium-bodied Grenache is somehow simultaneously satiating and thirst-quenching, fulfilling the body’s needs and desires.

When it comes to the actual flavors, the first sip is like drinking fresh water, lightly infused with soft-petaled flowers and a few raspberries. Those fruits sensed on the nose are quite subtle in the mouth, and present predominantly mid to late in the taste (and certainly in the aftertaste). The same time those fruits come forward, the tannins make themselves known, and with this — I find — there’s more greenery (herbal notes of mint and/or sage) and river-damp soil that comes into play in the tasting. And then the river water washes away leaving a bit of a wet-stone minerality in that lingering, tingling finish.

Food Pairing: I enjoyed Passaggio Wines 2014 Grenache grilled pork tenderloin alongside roasted potatoes and beetroot sprinkled with blue cheese.

The soft, buttery texture of the potatoes added a bit more roundness to the mouthfeel of the wine. The sweetness of the beetroot actually pulled out a few hidden peppery notes in the wine along with those baking spices sensed on the nose. And the blue cheese, with its subtle funkiness, just made the wine taste all that more refreshing and, like the potato, the cheese’s creamy texture exemplified some voluptuousness to the body of the Grenache.

Was it the perfect pairing? Absolutely — I enjoyed every bite that was followed by a sip of wine. Is it the only pairing? Heck no. Passaggio Wines 2014 Grenache is so well balanced both in flavor and structure it could go with a variety of meals. I say, read the tasting notes and pair it with something you think you’ll enjoy.

More Info: I received Passaggio Wines 2014 Grenache as a sample for review. (Cheers, Cindy!) For more information about Passaggio Wines and to purchase wines directly, visit the Passaggio Wines website.

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