Sunday, December 11, 2022

Language of Yes En Passerillage Rancho Real Grenache

The Language of Yes En Passerillage Santa Maria Valley Rancho Real Grenache 2020 

We recently picked up two  oddly named "Language of Yes" red wines based on Rhône varietals, a Syrah and this Grenache, grown in the Rancho Réal Vineyard in the California Central Coast Santa Maria Valley.

This is a postlude to the recent posting where I wrote in detail about Randall Grahm's project and his Language of Yes En Passerillage Rancho Real Santa Maria Valley Syrah.

I detailed in that post how Randall Grahm gained notoriety with Bonny Doon Vineyard, where he had a long history of innovation and grew some popular brands - Big House, Cardinal Zin and Pacific Rim, to become the 28th largest winery in the United States. He was perhaps the first to truly popularize Rhône grapes in California, he realized he could have success creating distinctive and original wines working with Rhône varieties in the Central Coast of California.

In this project, winemaker Randall Grahm applies old world techniques, such as the practice of passerillage, or post-harvest drying of the grapes before crushing. In the cool Rancho Réal Vineyard, they place the grapes on paper raisin trees in the shade of the vine itself. This practice allows for a slight dehydration and concentration of the grapes, and, as significantly, a maturation of the stems of the bunches. The result is the stems are an excellent source of tannin, supporting the overall structure of the wine. The inclusion of the whole clusters allows for a slow release of grape sugar into the fermenting must, improving the fermentation, thus creating a slower and controlled process. "Clean", less stressed fermentation complements the process in what is called "reductive élevage," central to the style of The Language of Yes.

We tried the Syrah and found it interesting but not highly inspiring. Normally, we favor Syrah over Grenache from the popular Rhône varietals, but in this case, the Grenache won out over the Syrah. 

The Language of Yes En Passerillage Santa Maria Valley Rancho Real Vineyard Grenache 2020

This was more elegant, structured and complex than its sister wine, the companion Syrah from the same source and produced in the same method, that we tasted the other night

Contrary to widely held beliefs, Grenache is a grape capable of elegance and complexity that can be held for for many years. This release is a testament to the art of the possible for the varietal often overshadowed by the popular Syrah. 

Indeed, Grenache is one of the big three most popular and designated grapes required to be in the blend and comprise at least 70% of the legendary Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rhone blends, along with Syrah and Mourvedre. The trio is often blended together to form what is popularly known and marketed as a "G-S-M", Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. This release is 100% Grenache.

This release was awarded 94 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and James Suckling, and 93 points by Wine Enthusiast, 17.5+/20 points by Jancis Robinson.

Winemaker's Notes for this release: "The simultaneous release adopted the extremely non-standard practice of air-drying the grapes post-harvest. Our first vintage from the Rancho Réal vineyard is an experiment in phenolic extraction and a realization of our intent to not slavishly replicate the wines of Southern France, but rather to seek to find and amplify the unique characteristics of our climats and terroirs in the Central Coast of California."

Opaque pale ruby colored with slight browning, medium bodied,rather elegant and nicely balanced, bright tangy layers of strawberry, raspberry and notes of rhubarb, dusty rose, clove, spice and sandalwood with bright acidity and moderate tannins on the lingering finish. 

RM 91 points.