2018 Hundred Suns, Grenache, Elephant Mountain Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington State.
Grant Coulter and Rene Saint-Amour’s Hundred Suns winery, based in McMinnville, is one of the most exciting labels in Oregon these days and while Grant’s experience with Beaux Freres, as head winemaker, makes him a top gun in Pinot Noir, he also made their rare estate Grenache, which I was lucky enough to have tasted and had bottles of when I first met him at Beaux Freres back in 2008, so it was exciting to see his new take on Grenache with his own Hundred Suns, which is sourced from Elephant Mountain in Washington State’s Yakima Valley. This 2018 is a thrill ride of unique layers of energy filled red fruits and a feral earthy/savory edginess, it reminds me of the first time I tasted Christophe Barron’s Cayuse, No Girls and Horsepower Grenache wines, it is really an amazing wine with a full bodied palate and is texturally sublime, all accented by a racy array of spices, floral details and tangy herbs. There is a cascade of black plum, pomegranate, loads of strawberry and brambly raspberry fruits along with touches of briar, pepper, shaved cinnamon stick, kirsch, minty notes, cedar and warm roof tiles. Grenache freaks will go absolutely orgasmic for this dark ruby hued wine, it is an incredible version of this grape that will appeal to those that love some of rarities, it is more like what you would find in the Sierra de Gredos, rather that in the Rhone Valley, but with its own intriguing twist of character and with a singular charm.
This Hundred Suns Grenache comes from the Warden silty loam soils of Yakima’s Elephant Mountain Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills, set at good elevation and seeing a big swing in day and night temps here, allowing for beautiful fruit density and ripeness, but with good natural acidity and freshness, which Coulter really achieved here in his 2018 vintage, a long and cooler than average growing cycle. This stuff has 14.2% natural alcohol and feels wonderfully balanced with a pleasure inducing warm mouth feel that is elegantly silken without losing its vivid and lively personality. Grant took great care and put a lot of thought into this Grenache and he went with 100% whole cluster and a hybrid carbonic maceration in a sealed small fermentor, then after 20 days the still intact berries and clusters are pressed and allows to go through spontaneous indigenous (yeast) fermentation, after which it saw 12 months in terra-cotta amphora and then another five months in neutral french oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. All of this pain staking hand crafted technique pays off in the way this complex wine shows off in the glass and gives this impressive Grenache its distinction and makes it ever more alluring and seductive, it is especially good with food, where it deepens and gains a more profound impact and fruit truly excels. Sadly this 2018 Grenache is hard wine to find, I certainly wished I had bought a few more bottles, a mistake I didn’t make on their extremely limited Space Cat Rosé. The latest set of Hundred Suns is an impeccable collection of wines, with the Pinots and the Gamay from the 2019 vintage being unmissable and remarkable values, in particular the Old Eight Cut and the single vineyard Sequitur and Shea offerings!
($40 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive