“I love to talk – a lot! I also love to make wine – a lot! This label pays homage to the fact that every wine tells a story.” So reads Larry’s 2011 Verbiage Label. He’s a lover of words who’s eager to share the story of each vineyard, grape, bottle, and vintage. So it’s a heart-warming sentiment when, instead of describing Verbiage on the back of the bottle, he pauses, takes a step back, and acknowledges us as lovers of wine ourselves. “Share your story,” he says.

About the Wine: Tercero Wines 2011 Verbiage is made from 38% Grenache, 38% Syrah, 12% Mourvèdre and 12% Viognier — harvested from various vineyards along California’s Santa Barbara region. (You can read more about Larry’s specific vineyards.) Each lot was pressed and fermented separately, aged for 30 months in seasoned French oak, and left in barrel unracked. The final blend was created just before bottling and left in bottle for 3 years before release.

Even though Larry didn’t want to inundate his audience with the story of this wine, I wanted to hear it and I’ll share it with you here. First thing you need to know about Larry is that he’s all about single-varietal wines. He believes a wine should be a life-filled expression of the grape and pay homage to the vineyard site. So, to him, “If you are going to set out to do a blend, the whole better darned well turn out to be ‘bigger’ than the sum of its parts or why do so in the first place?”

The key to a good blend is good ingredients, highlighting the primary qualities of each grape, and finding the perfect balance of complimenting flavors and textures. But 2011 was no easy vintage, and the Tercero 2011 Verbiage is no classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rhône blend.

According to Larry, 2011 was a cool year with lots of frost, and he was unable to harvest any Grenache from one of his primary vineyards. So, as he says, he didn’t have a lot of that grape to “play with.” But Larry’s resourceful and took a look at what he did have — a suitable amount of Syrah and a barrel of late harvest Viognier. “I made a late harvest Viognier a few years back,” Larry says, “There were 2 barrels made, but one kept fermenting and I could not stop it!” That’s the barrel that went into the blend — and the element that gives the otherwise dark wine some brightness. (See tasting notes below.)

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: As I said, Larry encourages us to create our own story with this wine. I take this as a call to action to write some “alternative” tasting notes, if you will.

I’m walking along the dusty red brick road. Through a dense, dark, wooded forest. I can see very little, but I can smell the damp wood of the tree bark. I can hear the crunchy eucalyptus leaves under my feet and I know without even tasting that it’s chocolate soil I trod on.

This is a mythical forest where maraschino cherries grow on the same bushes as mint leaves. Hansel and Gretel had no idea.

And so I go, all in. Grab my hand.

We jump into this funky forest, and did you know that there’s a swimming pool of blueberry sauce? Did you know further in there’s a campfire? And did you know that you can just get drunk on this atmosphere?

Dear, don’t be afraid of the dark. Everything here is friendly, every element edible. And no, you can’t leave here, and yes we will die here  — with a burning fire in our hearts.


Food Pairing: I paired the Tercero Wines 2011 Verbiage with flame-grilled filet mignon drizzled with a berry and red wine reduction sauce served alongside an herb-based salad sprinkled with blue cheese and fresh blueberries. Perfect pairing — this wine loves a smoked meat, but choose a lean cut to ensure you don’t overwhelm the delicate nature of this seemingly hearty red wine. Blue cheese pairs beautifully with the fruit elements of the wine, while anything herbaceous will call out the earthy elements.

More Info: I received the Tercero Wines 2011 Verbiage as a sample for review. (Cheers Larry!) This wine is not yet listed on the site for sale. To inquire about the 2011 Verbiage, please contact Larry on the Tercero Wines website.

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