In the 19th century this spicy berry-flavored red grape, with notes of pepper and spice, found its way to California, more than likely from Europe. It was mostly planted in the San Joaquin Valley, where it was mainly used as a blending grape for sweet jug wines.
Grenache finally hitchhiked its way up north to Washington State where it made its appearance in Yakima, around 1966. This wine blogger finally tasted Grenache in the year 1978. It was a 1976 Chateau Ste Michelle Grenache Rosé. My mother introduced me to it and it became a family favorite, while we often bought 2-3 bottles of it at a time, until one day - - it disappeared. I don't remember ever seeing it again.
Through the years I would pick up a French Grenache rouge (not rosé) here and there, but they never agreed with me. They would often clutch me around the mid-chest as they were going down, and later give me horrible heart burn. However, like I tell people (if they are paying attention) to keep trying whatever varietal that you are not crazy about or disagrees with you, as perhaps some day you may find just the right one - - and I did. I took my own advice.
It just so happens that Maison Bleue Winery has two Grenache's that liked me and I very much liked them. In fact, I could have sipped on them both all day, especially the Le Midi Grenache - 2011. It is such a "pretty" wine. If I could give the wine a gender, it would definitely be a feminine wine. The fruit was sourced from Boushey Vineyards in the Yakima area. The nose is very floral with hints of blackberry. In my slow sipping of the wine I picked up more of the blackberries and other dark fruit, with light hints of pepper and spice. Indeed a long finish. This is a wine I would relax with and sip on.
Okay, so I was going to grow up and be a Latin major, and currently me hablo Espanol muy poquito. However, while I can pronounce many French wine labels, La Montagnette Grenache - 2011 does not roll off of my tongue very gracefully. It's me, not the wine's fault. However, I can tell you this Grenache, from Upland Vineyard at Snipes Mountain, is a bold wine compared to the Le Midi. The nose of La Montagnette presented itself of dark ripe fruit and spice. More dark fruit and spice was offered at first sip and even a hint of light herbs and mineral showed up. This is a wine that I would definitely pair with roasted and smoked meats.
And best of all, with both wines, there were no after effects of heartburn. The only residual was nice memories of two beautiful wines. Thank you Jon at Maison Bleue Winery, you have given me hope when it comes to Grenache.