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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 the majority of the state's wine. The sprawling district covers most of the vineyard land between San Francisco and Santa Barbara from the coast 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 Monterey, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, and Santa Cruz Mountains.
Just about every major international grape variety is planted within this vast AVA, from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. A significant proportion of the region’s produce is generic, inexpensive bulk wine, but the Central Coast is also home to many small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as everything in between.
Full-bodied but light in both color and tannin, Grenache loves the sun. It thrives in hot climates where it can easily achieve full ripeness. Grenache is best known in the Southern Rhône, where its plush texture and ample alcohol are tamed by savory Syrah and structured Mourvèdre, most notably in Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Grenache originates in Spain, where it is known as Garnacha and is important throughout the country, particularly in Rioja, where it is blended with the more austere Tempranillo, and in Priorat in tandem with savory Cariñena (Carignan). It is also responsible for dry, fruity rosés in Navarra. In Sardinia, the variety is known as Cannonau and produces bold, rustic reds. In California, Grenache has achieved popularity both flying solo and playing a supporting role in Rhône-style blends.
In the Glass
In sufficiently warm conditions, Grenache produces smooth and generous wines that are loaded with red fruit flavors ranging from strawberry to cherry to dark berry. Richer examples can also show plum, chocolate, and 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. With its uncomplicated, friendly nature, Grenache is the ultimate barbecue red, pairing happily with lamb loin chops or spicy Italian sausages. Unlike most other full-bodied reds, Grenache’s low tannin level ensures that it will not be fazed by a good chili kick.
Sardinia’s Cannonau is often revered for its association with a long, healthy life. Residents of the Italian island often live well into their 90s and beyond, and they credit this antioxidant-rich wine—along with their healthy Mediterranean diet—for their impressive longevity.