The Withers Grenache 2015
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Their aim is to produce elegant, nuanced, balanced, food friendly expressions of cool climate vineyard sites that don’t sacrifice flavor, complexity or intensity. For those wondering about the winery name, the withers is in four legged species the tallest point of the body. For horses, it is the place from which height is measured. They named the winery in the spirit of striving for heights in every aspect of their operation, and as a tribute to Mr.Burgess, the Irish Connemara pony who has been a member of their extended family for almost 15 years. The artwork on the label is an original illustration of Mr. Burgess drawn by a special young woman who has known their family and the horse since her childhood. He is a sensitive and beautiful animal willing to experiment with the many equestrian disciplines, having over time proven to be reliable and expert at every one.
They aim for the same concept in making wine; be unafraid of exploration and pursue heights of excellence across many disciplines, whether red, white or rosé and irrespective of varietal. What they seek in wine, friendships, music, and everything for which they have a passion is something to reach for, something that draws you in because it is not so obvious on its face, yet which intrigues you. Something that with patience yields an end result that builds from the first impression. Something familiar and evocative, yet which leaves you searching for descriptive words. Something soulful. In other words, they seek to produce qualities in their wines that we look for in every corner of their lives. So they embarked on the journey, determined, enthusiastic and hopeful.
This project has been 35 years in the making. Years filled with collecting, sampling, enjoying, learning, and sharing. What they are doing today wouldn’t be possible without help from close friends; extremely talented people about whom they care and who have shared their knowledge, expertise and time. They consider themselves very lucky to know such wonderful people, and to be working with them going forward. Combining a personal passion for wine with the hard work involved in making it for others to enjoy requires a healthy respect for the challenges to being successful and for the process itself. They have that respect, and believe that the most important element will always be working with vineyards which produce the high quality fruit from which every fine wine must come, then letting it speak for itself without attempting to alter its true character. They hope you will take an interest in what they are doing, share your true stories with them, and most of all, enjoy their wines with friends, colleagues, and loved ones!
As home to California’s highest altitude vineyards, El Dorado is also one of its oldest wine growing regions. When gold miners settled here in the late 1800s, many also planted vineyards and made wine to quench its local demand.
By 1870, El Dorado County, as part of the greater Sierra Foothills growing area, was among the largest wine producers in the state, behind only Los Angeles and Sonoma counties. The local wine industry enjoyed great success until just after the turn of the century when fortune-seekers moved elsewhere and its population diminished. With Prohibition, winemaking and grape growing was totally abandoned. But some of these vines still exist today and are the treasure chest of the Sierra Foothills as we know them.
El Dorado has a diverse terrain with elevations ranging from 1,200 to 3,500 feet, creating countless mesoclimates for its vineyards. This diversity allows success with a wide range of grapes including whites like Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as for reds, Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo, Barbera and especially, Zinfandel.
Soils tend to be fine-grained volcanic rock, shale and decomposed granite. Summer days are hot but nights are cool and the area typically gets ample precipitation in the form or rain or snow in the winter.
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.