2013GroundworkCounoise2013 Groundwork, Counoise, Central Coast.
San Liege’s Curt Schachlin makes a great number of handcrafted wines under his main label Sans Liege and his Groundwork label, the Groundwork always being single varietal Rhone offerings, while the Sans Liege includes mostly Rhone blends, except in the case of his glorious Sancha 100% Marsanne and Curt’s two top Grenache cuvees En Gedi and Pickpocket. The latest Groundwork red, and new to me, is Schachlin’s Counoise, one of the rare Chateauneuf du Pape Rhone red grapes that almost never finds it’s way into mono varietal bottlings, but it’s use is on the rise in Paso Robles in exciting blends since it came to the region along with Cinsault and Tannat as part mainly of Tablas Creek’s cutting they brought from France and their vines at Beaucastel. Counoise is similar to Grenache with red berry fruit, peppery spice and light tannins, and this Groundwork Counoise is a superb expression of the grape and a very tasty wine, Curt was telling me, recently at a tasting in San Francisco, that he found some of this varietal in a small vineyard near his home close to Arroyo Grande and that it gets less than a ton per acre from almost wild shrub/head pruned vines and that he uses partial carbonic fermentation in a self taught technique that really works great on this new Groundwork Counoise wine. The 2013 Groundwork Counoise is medium weight, nicely dark with a garnet/ruby hue in the glass and very expressive with bright boysenberry, raspberry, strawberry and tart cherry fruits, zesty pepper spice, a touch of chalky stones and mineral, minty herb, salted licorice and dried wild flowers. This is a playful and vibrant red that creams to be drunk now and often, it is very pleasing without heaviness or having cloying fruit, this is a perfect Spring and Summer red, almost Beaujolais like in flexibility and style, and in fact I would serve with a slight chill in the heat of an afternoon BBQ party. Drink this little gem over the next few years, I love it, between this and Rochioli’s Valdiguie, I’ve found my Summer quaffers, best from 2015 to 2018. Also be sure to look for Curt’s Groundwork Grenache, Grenache Blanc and Mourvedre, these all really rock for the price!
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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