2020 The Language of Yes, Grenache “En Passerillage” Rancho Réal Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley.
The beautifully silken and fruit dense The Language of Yes Grenache En Passerillage is a unique and seductive version of California Grenache made by the collaboration of legendary Randall Grahm, formerly of The Bonny Doon Vineyard and a small team from Gallo, the wine industry giant and the most well known family winery in the country, sourced and produced from carefully tended vines in the Santa Maria Valley and made with a process that Randall calls En Passerillage, which consists of drying a portion of the grapes prior to fermentation. This achieved lovely results here, giving outstanding mouth feel and complexity, making for a hugely pleasure filled experience that is not unlike what you’ll get in some top 100% old vine Grenache Chateauneuf-du-Pape cuvées and some thrilling single varietal Australian Grenache wines, like the famed Clarendon Hills. The Grenache grapes are allowed to air dry on paper mats for three days prior to re-collection, with the aim of lignifying stems, which takes the intense bitterness out of the equation and gives the finished wine a more exotic quality, smoother structure as the air drying also ripens the tannin, which Grahm and team exploited to used 50% whole cluster and stem inclusion. This inviting and translucent 2020 Grenache En Passerillage is deep garnet/ruby in the glass and is very expressive aromatically, maybe also heighten by the methods employed here and it has a sublime seamless full bodied palate with layers of black raspberry, juicy plum, pomegranate and reduced strawberry fruits that are accented by subtle oak usage and an array of background flavors, including cinnamon, licorice, dried lavender, a of Italian herbs and sweet kirsch. The delicate florals continue from nose to lingering finish, but don’t hide the sultry earthiness and light savory tones, this is a hedonistic Grenache and should be enjoyed with robust cuisine and or hearty winter dishes. I am now getting excited to try the Syrah based The Language of Yes, with its dose of co-fermented Viognier, a la Cote-Rotie, also made from cool climate and sandy loamy Rancho Réal Vineyard.
The Language of Yes wines, include three offerings, this Grenache En Passerillage, a sister Syrah En Passerlllage bottling and the sold out Provence styled Rosé of Cinsault and Tibouren, which I feel lucky to have got a few bottles of and reviewed earlier this year, and they are an exciting set of wines, coming from an unlikely partnership, but one that gives Randall a way to be wildly creative and loaded with the resources of Gallo, that have an amazing collection of vineyards, that sometimes don’t get the individual focus that they maybe deserve, making it a win win for both parties. Grahm notes, Grenache is similar to Pinot Noir, in so far as its need for gentle extraction and susceptibility to oxidation, can make it fickle to work with and he says sometimes Grenache is the wine that California Pinot lovers are actually looking for, when done right and from the right terroir or in cooler climate sites, as it is transparent and not as structured as Cabernet and or Syrah, so it has nowhere to hide from heavy handed winemaking and sometimes can be undermined by bitter phenolics when made with stem inclusion. California cool climate Grenache has made great strides in recent years and some are flirting with greatness, with this The Language of Yes version being a wonderfully compelling effort. Randall goes to explain, that he (and team) split the lot of grapes into two separately fermented and macerated lots and adopted a traditional punchdown regime with one and a mechanical pump-over regime with the other after the grapes were dried on paper mats. The pump-over tank Grahm thought was initially more expressive than the punchdown version but ultimately, he felt that the punchdown technique led to more structure and depth in the resultant Grenache, which I certainly see here in this example in the bottle. Looking to achieve finesse and balance the wine was aged in a combination of used French oak Puncheons which gives textural quality and stainless steel tanks that showcases freshness and purity. Just 600 cases were made of this delicious 100% Grenache, which comes in at 14.67% natural alcohol, though it doesn’t feel too overt in its taste impact and I highly recommend Grenache fans grab some, it looks to be rewarding for those that want immediate gratification, though can be cellared another 3 to 5 years.
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive