Washington Grenache enchants me. I love the range of flavors and aromatics that the varietal can yield and the quality of Washington Grenache wines will only continue to build. It is now the highest priced Washington varietal to purchase and more and more Rose wines are being made with Grenache, as top wineries like Cayuse Vineyards, Gramercy Cellars, and DeLille Cellars are utilizing the varietal in their silky, stand alone Rose wines.
The Washington Wine Blog number one wine from both 2016 and 2017 has been the Cayuse Vineyards ‘God Only Knows’ Red Wine, which is predominantly Grenache. I am surprised that this wine does not receive the same attention that we give it. Simply put, there is nothing quite like it in the world. Last August I had the opportunity to visit Cayuse and visit with Christophe Baron and his talented assistant vigneronne, Elizabeth Bourcier. I’ll admit that I am a serious about using varietal specific stemware when I taste wines and we all started chatting about what they consider to be the proper stemware for their incredible Grenache wines. ‘Without a doubt,’ Christophe mentioned ‘the Burgundy glass is the proper glass for these [Grenache] wines.’ I had been experimenting quite a bit with wines from my collection at home, often vacillating between the Riedel Vinum Syrah glass and the Riedel Vinum Burgundy glasses. I looked at Elizabeth and she echoed the same sentiments, noting that the Riedel Vinum Burgundy glass is what she recommends for her gorgeous La Rata wines. We all tried experimenting together, from Grenache in the Riedel Burgundy glass to the wine in a Zalto Burgundy or other glasses and we were all amazed how much better their Grenache wines showed in the Riedel Burgundy glass.
I had to do more experimenting on my own. On a subsequent trip to Napa I had the chance to try the 2012 Cayuse Vineyards ‘God Only Knows’ Red Wine up against the 2012 Rasa Vineyards ‘Primus Inter Pares’ Grenache, both some of the top Grenache made in Washington and both from stony terroir. I tried these wines in four different stemware choices — Riedel and non-Riedel glasses made for Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. I was overwhelmed how much better the Grenache wines tasted out of the Riedel Vinum Burgundy glass. It also showed considerably better in the Riedel than the Zalto Burgundy glass as it had at Cayuse as well.
But what about Grenache from the Yakima Valley? Surely those wines could yield a different result? When I arrived home I was on a mission to resolve this query and I did the same thing with two different Grenache wines made from Grenache sourced from the Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. The results were very similar, the wines initially showed considerably better in the Riedel Vinum Pinot Noir glass. After more air and decanting the differences between the flavors and aromatics of Grenache in the Pinot Noir glass became even more resounding.
I have attended two Riedel Tasting Seminars before and have been blown away by the results. As a caveat, I have never been paid by Riedel or comped any stemware or any seminar from them. I would encourage all of you to attend this class to see how varietal specific stemware enhances the flavors and aromatics of wine. I am astounded how differently Washington Grenache tastes with a Riedel Vinum Burgundy glass and I would encourage all of you who love Washington Grenache to experiment with using this stemware at home to see the tangible difference.