Red, Rhone Blends - Red, Other Red Blends, Ribeiro, WINE

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Another regional style that has taken on a global application, the term "Rhône Blend" typically refers to wines made predominantly from the major, legally permitted varietals of the southern Rhône Valley in southeast France. Grenache is the primary grape varietal in most of these blends, and a wine will take on different characteristics depending on its proportional composition and its place of origin. As a blending component, Grenache is valued for the added body and fruitiness that it brings without added tannins. As a varietal, the grape's naturally low concentration of phenolics contribute to its pale color and lack of extract, but viticultural practices and low yields can increase the concentrations of phenolic compounds. Grenache-based wines tend to be made for early consumption with its propensity for oxidation make it a poor candidate for long-term aging. However, producers who use low yields grown on poor soils can produce dense, concentrated wines that can benefit from cellaring. Grenache-based wines can develop complex and intense notes of blackcurrants, black cherries, black olives, coffee, gingerbread, honey, leather, black pepper, tar, spices, and roasted nuts. When yields are increased, more overtly earthy and herbal notes emerge that tend to quickly fade on the palate.

Red wines from the southern Rhône can contain varying amounts of Cinsault, Counoise, Syrah, Mourvédre, and Carignan, but are almost always based on Grenache Noir. The characteristic of French Grenache-based wines depends largely on the selection of its blending partners and can range from the spicy richness associated with Châteauneuf-du-Pape to the chewy fruitiness associated with basic Côtes du Rhône Villages. Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Rasteau are other southern Rhône AOCs that produce their own distinctly characteristic Grenache-based wines. Generally, these wines are built for immediate consumption or mid-term aging, but the top examples, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, can endure extended cellaring. Grenache is widely grown throught Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence, as well, albeit of generally lesser quality than in the Rhône Valley itself. Many sub-AOCs of Languedoc-Roussillon will use Grenache as a secondary component in blends featuring predominantly Carignan, Syrah, or Cinsault. But perhaps the most highly prized, non-Grenache-based Rhône blends in France hail from Bandol in Provence, where the hearty, meaty Mourvédre grape forms the basis of the wines. Elsewhere in Provence, Grenache is the main staple in the region's widely beloved, fruity rosé wines.

Spain, where the grape is known as Garnacha, has the largest concentration of Grenache vines in the world, and while the grape is often blended with local varietals across the country, the tiny, hilltop region of Priorat is considered the apex of Spanish Grenache-based wine production. Low yields, warm weather, and an increasing commitment to quality result in an iteration that, when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and/or Carignan, can and must age for a number years to be fully enjoyable. These are wines of substantial power and body, with driving tannins, explosive fruit, and intensely earthy characteristics. Grenache is much less common in Italy, and in fact, it really only grows as Cannonau on the island of Sardigna, where it yields dark, brooding, powerfully tannic wines of supremely rustic character.

Grenache-based blends appear all over the New World, as well, but two countries in particular seem to have captured the formula to greater distinction than the rest. The grape appeared in Australia as early as 1832, and for a time it was the country's most widely planted varietal. Plantings in McLaren Vale, Barossa valley, and Clare Valley boomed, but by the mid-20th century it was overtaken by both Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, the past decade has seen a resurgence of the "GSM" blends with artisanal producers making the most of some seriously old vineyards. Varietal Grenache from the McLaren Vale is characterized by luscious richness and spicy notes while Barossa Valley Grenache is characterized by jammy, intense fruitiness. The United States has had its own surge of popularity in Grenache-based wines, beginning with the Rhône Rangers, a consortium of Central Coast growers in California who imported new cuttings from the Rhône valley for planting in the cooler Central Coast regions for use in the production of premium varietal Grenache and Rhône style blends. The wines of Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County are cool climate examples with bright red fruits and suave, gentle textures, while the warmer Paso Robles regions produces Grenache- and Syrah-based wines on par with Priorat for their ripeness, power, and intensity.

There are few, if any varietals, the world over that can display the kind of versatility and variance of style as Grenache, which goes a long way to explaining its popularity with growers and consumers alike. While it seldom reaches the same heights as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, it is nonetheless an equally important cornerstone in the world of wine.

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94 points James Suckling: Beautifully peppery florals and a really pretty nose. The palate has a swathe of bright cherry fruits, a lick of spice and pepper amid fine, feathery tannins. Drink now. (1/18/18) ...
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Vina Mein Ribeiro Tinto Atlantico 2015  (#702187)

Other Red Blends from Ribeiro, Spain

94 points James Suckling: Beautifully peppery florals and a really pretty nose. The palate has a swathe of bright cherry fruits, a lick of spice and pepper amid fine, feathery tannins. Drink now. (1/18/18)

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$44.95
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