It’s not often I review foreign wine, so when I do I always like to insert a little bit about the region. This Gris de Gris hails from France’s Languedoc-Roussilon AOC, which spans along the Mediterranean coastline, from the southern border with Spain up toward France’s region of Provence. In total, the AOC has about 700,000 acres planted to vines and is one of the biggest wine-producing regions in the world.
The terrain and climate characteristics are similar to that of the Southern Rhône region (located to the north and slightly west of Languedoc) and Provence (located to the north, arching toward the east along the Mediterranean Ocean.) Thus, the whole of the Languedoc-Roussillon region produces a wide variety of grapes and wine styles — from your classic “Bordeaux” varietals (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc) to your typical Rhône varietals (Grenache, Syrah, Viognier).
There are several appellations and sub-appellations within Languedoc that, for the most part, were originally separated based more on politics than wine-related reasons — though this seems to be changing even as we speak. However, a lot of wines from this area will still simply state “Languedoc” without any other regional or varietal information on the bottle.
On the whole, the Languedoc regions seems to be –what? — undiscovered or under-appreciated? There are quality wines coming from the AOC that are a lot more affordable than some of France’s other notable regions. I guess, for now, let’s not question it, let’s just go with it. And let’s go with it with this Gris de Gris.
The Merrill family have been in the Californian agricultural realm for 8 generations. It was seventh generation Dana Merrill who began raising wine grapes in 1981 and founded the family’s vineyard management group, Mesa Vineyard Management, in 1989. From then until now, the Merrills have worked with some prestigious vineyards and big-name winemakers. It wasn’t until 2002 that Dana purchased Pomar Junction Vineyard on Templeton’s South El Pomar Road in Paso Robles. The family spent six years transitioning the 40-acre vineyard to SIP Certified standards and renovating the property’s lone building into the current tasting room. While the family continues to source grapes from other regions, their estate line — which celebrated a premier vintage in 2011 — is solely focused on what their piece of Paso does best: Rhone and Bordeaux varietals.
I first came into contact with Wrath Wines during a Pinot Noir-focused tasting in SF. I was immediately drawn to the combination of elegance and rusticity they were able to capture into their wines. Indeed, working with fruit from Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highland AVA means working with some seriously structured fruit — even Pinot Noirs can be a bit harsh. Not so here.
I was delighted to find them in my package of SIP Certified wines and have the chance to dive deep into the varietal that (I think) they do so well.
When I received a package filled with SIP Certified wine, I was thrilled to see an Albariño in the mix. As one of my favorite Spanish varietals, I’ve only recently come to taste a few with a California home base. After a recent successful tasting of the Eighty Four Wines 2017 Albariño from Sonoma, I was eager to taste what Edna Valley had to say about the grape variety. Maybe too eager. The Tangent Paragon Vineyard Albariño went straight from box, to chiller, to glass that same day.
McKahn Family Cellars is yet another winery I’ve heard all about and even follow on social media, but never had the opportunity to taste. Now, I’m not a huge rosé person. Indeed, I’m quite picky about the pink things I drink. But when I saw that this rosé was made from 100% Grenache — well this honorary Rhone Ranger just couldn’t pass it up… (more…)