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…
I like prime numbers. A prime number is unbreakable — only divisible by itself and 1. Some may say they don’t play well with others; I say they’re strong enough to stand on their own. I find I have some kind of spiritual connection to prime numbers. We’re weird, we don’t fit into conventional puzzle pieces, a lot of people don’t “get” us, and even more people don’t even know what or who we are. We hide in plain sight and are the answer to “can you tell me which thing is not like the other?”
…I also find that meaningful things happen to me when I am a prime number age…
In 2011 — a prime year — the Russian River Valley experienced unconventional climatic conditions that, for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t have worked. But it did — not for everyone, but for some vintners. And when I tasted the Crux Winery 2011 Zinfandel the first time I visited the boys in their warehouse winery, this was the wine I felt a deep, undeniably emotional connection to.
While attending the Crux Winery GSM Blending Trial, co-owner and winemaker Steve Gower said to us “Mourvèdre is a hard varietal to describe. If you can think of a good way to do it, let us know.” Challenge accepted, Steve.
GSM is a classic red wine blend from the South of France, namely the Rhône valley. The acronym “GSM” comes from the grape names that make up the primary ingredients: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre. It also indicates the percentages of each wine that makes up the final blend; although exact percentages will vary from year to year (depending on a particular vintage’s quantity and quality of yield), traditionally there will be the highest amount of Grenache, followed by Syrah, and finally Mourvèdre.
But because wine blending (and winemaking in general) is equal parts art and science, vintners will spend days, weeks, maybe even months perfecting their final blend. If you have a chance to participate in this art project/science experiment, do it. It’s an opportunity to learn about the importance of vintage and terroir, harvest and winemaking methods, individual grapes and final blends.
In my book, you can’t call yourself a Rhone Ranger unless you make a decent GSM. Look at the fine print in my book and it also says that those individual components have to shine on their own — Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre. Well, if you look in the glossary of my book under Rhone Ranger, you’ll see a picture of Steve and Brian of Crux Winery. Not only do they do justice for the Rhone-style, but they grow and produce these typically warm-weathered grapes in the heart of Northern California’s Russian River Valley.