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Austin Hope Grenache 2007
In 1978, a family of four arrived in Paso Robles to start a new life. At the time, fewer than a thousand acres of grapes had been planted in the region. Chuck Hope left his job in beverage distribution to become a farmer, settling his family, planting apples and grapes, and learning how to farm in Paso. In time, the Hope family became one of the area’s top grape growers.
Austin Hope grew up working alongside his father, inheriting his love and respect for the region. He led the family’s move into winemaking in 1995, and further exploration of Paso began. In 2000, Austin created the Austin Hope label, making very small productions of Rhône varietals. These wines are produced from vines grown at the family’s estate property, where soils and climate have similarities with Rhône Valley vineyards. They remain small yet extraordinary productions. Each bottling holds onto a unique intensity and softness, expressing a special side of Paso.
Today, Austin is showcasing an even greater sweep of the Paso region and expressing a similar richness with a recently released Cabernet Sauvignon. The source of the wine is far-reaching within the appellation - a most discerning group of vineyards located on gently sloping hillsides and hidden pockets across the domain, providing dimension to the Cabernet varietal. The wine has a bold structure of lush, velvety tannins and an unmistakable elegance. It is dark, ripe and eminently enjoyable.
The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces a good majority of the state's wine. This vast district stretches from San Francisco all the way to Santa Barbara along the coast, and reaches inland nearly all the way to the Central Valley.
Encompassing an extremely diverse array of climates, soil types and wine styles, it contains many smaller sub-AVAs, including San Francisco Bay, Monterey, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley.
While the region could probably support almost any major grape varietiy, it is famous for a few. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are among the major ones. The Central Coast is home to many of the state's small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as larger producers also making exceptional wines.
Enjoying great glory across a variety of appellations, Grenache thrives in any warm, Mediterranean climate where ample sunlight allows its clusters to achieve full phenolic ripeness. The grape typically produces full-bodied reds interestingly light in both color and tannins. While it can make a charmingly complex single varietal wine, it also lends well to blending. Grenache's birthplace is Spain (there called Garnacha) where it remains important, particularly in Priorat where winemakers enjoy great liberties in blending Grenache with other varieties. Today it might be most well associated with the red blends of the Southern Rhône, namely Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Rhône and its Villages. The Italian island of Sardinia produces bold, rustic Grenache (there called Cannonau) whereas in California, Washington and Australia, Grenache has achieved popularity both flying solo and in blends.
In the Glass
In sufficiently warm conditions, Grenache produces smooth and generous wines that are loaded with strawberry, cherry blackberry, purple plum and in the richest examples, even cocoa, black tea or licorice.
Despite its bold flavors, Grenache has very mild-mannered tannins, which makes it eminently quaffable on its own, yet easy to match with food. Because of its friendly nature, Grenache is the ultimate barbecue red, pairing happily with lamb chops, pork loin or tri-tip. Unlike most other full-bodied reds, Grenache’s low tannin level ensures that it will not easily be fazed by a bit of spice.
Sardinia is often revered for its association with a long and healthy life. Residents of the Italian island often live well into their 90s and beyond, crediting this to their antioxidant-rich red wines, like Cannonau, along with their healthy Mediterranean diet.