Relic Wine Cellars Paras Vineyard Grenache 2014
More effusive than the 2013, with hugely fragrant aromas of strawberries, plum pudding, lavender, white pepper, peach pit and yellow flowers. The palate is deceivingly juicy and vibrant, with fluid texture and rich fruit in abundance, while the finish gets serious, framed by the finest of mountain tannins.
Relic was founded in Napa Valley in 2001 by husband and wife team Michael Hirby and Schatzi
Throckmorton, with a focus on historic winemaking techniques. Inspired by a love of Burgundy, they began making a small amount of Pinot Noir, and have since continued to mine history for old secrets in the making of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast as well as Rhone and Bordeaux varietals from the Napa Valley, where their hillside cave winery is located.
When highly natural, traditional methods such as indigenous yeast fermentation, whole-cluster
fermentation, extended lees ageing, minimal-intervention, etc. - are applied to California’s great terroirs, the resulting wines are world-class, complex, layered, and vibrantly aromatic. The diverse vineyard sources are tended with the utmost care, and are always grown to Relic’s specifications of yield, light exposure, irrigation, etc.
After gaining a degree in Philosophy from Colorado College, Michael worked for 2 years as a
sommelier. Before moving to Napa Valley., he spent an extended period tasting with winemakers in France, where he learned that some contemporary winemaking rules are meant to be broken, and his traditional approach became entrenched. Michael is currently the consulting winemaker for D.R. Stephens Estate, Husic Family Vineyards, Sarocka Estate, Wolf Family Vineyards, Flint Knoll, and MAZE, and was the consulting winemaker at Realm Cellars for 8 years.
Schatzi gained a degree in History from Northwestern before moving to Napa Valley in 1999 to work harvest. Her skills were soon recognized, and she has been busy ever since. Schatzi is the Business Manager for Behrens Family Winery, where she has been for 17 years.
Centered at the peak for which it is named, Mount Veeder is Napa’s largest sub-AVA. But even though the entire appellation spreads over 16,000 acres, vineyards cover a mere 1,000. Scattered among Douglas firs and bristlecone pines, Mount Veeder vineyards extend south from the upper elevations of the Mayacamas Mountains—the highest point at 2,400 feet—to the border of the Carneros region. Less than 25 wineries produce wine from Mount Veeder fruit.
Winemaking began early in this appellation. In 1864, Captain Stelham Wing presented the first Mount Veeder wine to the Napa County Fair; it came from today’s Wing Canyon Vineyard. Prohibition, of course, halted winemaking and viticulture wasn’t revitalized until the founding of Mayacamas Vineyards in 1951 and Bernstein Vineyards in 1964.
The Bernstein Vineyards was actually home to the first Petit Verdot in California, planted in 1975. Today most of the Petit Verdot in Napa Valley originates from this vineyard.
Rocky volcanic clay and ancient seabed matter dominate Mount Veeder soils—perfect for Bordeaux varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot enjoy spectacular success. These varieties produce wines rich in brambly blackberry and black cherry fruit with herbal and floral aromatics. Structures are moderate to assertive and wines have great staying power.
Chardonnay from Mount Veeder is lush, full and balanced mineral and fresh citrus flavors.
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.