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Cayuse God Only Knows Grenache 2009

Grenache from Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
  • RP95
0% ABV
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  • WS94
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5.0 1 Ratings
0% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Intensely fruity on the nose, with spicy flavors that follow and expand across the palate. This has excellent grip and depth, along with balancing acidity and structure. Plum, kirsch and concentrated cherry flavors pop out. It's a wine of refined power.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 95
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The Cayuse 2009 Grenache Armada Vineyard God Only Knows (named for the otherwise unspecified roughly 10% share of this that he claims isn’t Grenache) was cropped at only a ton and a half per acre (ca. 20 hectoliters per hectare) because, as Baron puts it, “we are struggling every year just to get Grenache ripe. But we love it for the challenge,” he hastens to add. “Even a monkey can make a great Syrah, but Grenache , We’ve got 7 acres of this grape now,” compared with more or less 25 of Syrah, he reports, commenting: “You’ve got to be crazy!” Fresh strawberry and elderberry are tinged with birch bark extract, black tea, and basil, making for an aromatically intriguing and lip-smacking palate presence. An upwelling of beef marrow and a Syrah- (or Gewurztraminer-) like hint of smoked meat add to the wine’s saliva-inducing savor. Here is a really vivid illustration of how the best Washington wines offer nearly luxuriant richness and sweet berry intensity but at the same time exhilarating vibrancy and lift. And, true to Baron’s repeatedly stated intentions, there are – beyond salt, stone, and smoky aura of black tea – elements impinging on this wine’s superbly sustained finish that can only be called “mineral,” even if one can’t find further words for them. I suspect this will be worth following for at least a decade. Incidentally, the wine was vinified in concrete and then aged in demi-muids plus one concrete egg. Apropos controlling alcohol and enhancing ripe flavors (for more on which, see my winery introduction), this beauty clocked in at what – in comparison with other recent vintages – counts as a modest 14.3%, despite its warm growing season; yet as you can tell from my description, there’s nothing under-ripe about its performance!95
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Cayuse

Cayuse

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Cayuse, Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
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An adventure in the new world
Christophe Baron grew up among the vineyards and cellars of his family's centuries-old Champagne house, Baron Albert. His sense of adventure, however, led him to become the first Frenchman to establish a winery in Washington State.

While visiting the Walla Walla Valley in 1996, Christophe spotted a plot of land that had been plowed up to reveal acres of softball-sized stones. This stony soil, this terroir, was just like that of some of the most prestigious French appellations. The difficult ground would stress the grapevines, making them produce more mature, concentrated fruit.

He named his vineyard after the Cayuse, a Native American tribe whose name was taken from the French cailloux--which means, rocks. Hours of back-breaking work later, Cayuse Vineyards has become five vineyards encompassing 41 acres.

The majority is planted with Syrah, and the rest dedicated to Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Roussanne, Tempranillo and Viognier. All of the vineyards are planted in rocky earth within the Walla Walla Valley appellation. Cayuse was the first winery in Washington State to use biodynamic farming methods.

Walla Walla Valley

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Responsible for some of Washington’s most highly acclaimed wines, the Walla Walla Valley has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years. It is home to both historic wineries and younger, up-and-coming producers. Though it is cooler and wetter than most of Washington State’s viticultural areas, irrigation from the Columbia River is still common, though some vineyards on the rainier eastern end of the AVA are able to dry farm.

The conditions in the Walla Walla Valley are perfectly suited to Rhône-inspired Syrahs, distinguished by savory notes of black olives, smoke, bacon fat, and fresh earth. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are produced in a range of styles from smooth and supple to tannic and structured. White varieties are a relative rarity here. Sauvignon Blanc is sometimes blended with Sémillon in the style of Bordeaux white blends, resulting in a richer, rounder version take on the variety. Plantings of Viognier are minimal, but often quite successful.

Grenache

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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.

Perfect Pairings

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.

Sommelier Secret

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.

ARP127884_2009 Item# 127884