Vinum Cellars Red Dirt Red GSM 2014
This is a unique blend that yields a combination of flavors that is only possible with a blend. The Syrah is very juicy and supple with a silky texture; the Mourvedre is responsible for the earthy notes and then the wine finishes with spicy Grenache which seems to express black and/or white pepper notes.
Aside from just sipping on its own, this wine is a perfect pairing with traditional Cassoulet and does well with lamb kebabs over wild and basmati rice or with tabouli and hummus. If none of these are available try a skirt steak grilled and served with a chimichurri sauce.
Blend: 55% Syrah, 24% Grenache, 21% Mourvedre
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Vinum Cellars is a collaboration of winemakers Richard Bruno and Chris Condos, who first became friends while they were students at UC Davis. They share a long standing passion for Chenin Blanc and fondness for the more obscure grape varieties. After graduation, Chris went to work for Pine Ridge as Enologist, and Richard went to Bonny Doon as their distiller. Shortly after, their friendship was solidified over Chenin Blanc with the creation of their first wine "Pointe Blanc". Currently the Vinum Cellars team is working with over 10 grape varieties from Placer County Cabernet Franc to San Benito County Viognier. In addition to the Vinum Cellars partnership, they are employed as winemakers: Chris with Kathryn Kennedy Winery and Richard as a Napa winemaking consultant.
Paso Robles has made a name for itself as a source of supple, powerful, fruit-driven wines wines. But with eleven smaller sub-AVAs, there is actually quite a bit of diversity to be found in this inland portion of California’s Central Coast.
Just east over the Santa Lucia Mountains from the chilly Pacific Ocean, lie the coolest in the region: Adelaida, Templeton Gap and (Paso Robles) Willow Creek Districts, as well as York Mountain AVA and Santa Margarita Ranch. These all experience more ocean fog, wind and precipitation compared to the rest of the Paso sub-appellations. The San Miguel, (Paso Robles) Estrella, (Paso Robles) Geneso, (Paso Robles) Highlands, El Pomar and Creston Districts, along with San Juan Creek, are the hotter, more western appellations of the greater Paso Robles AVA.
This is mostly red wine country, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel standing out as the star performers. Other popular varieties include Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Grenache and Rhône blends, both red and white. There is a fairly uniform tendency here towards wines that are unapologetically bold and opulently fruit-driven, albeit with a surprising amount of acidity thanks to the region’s chilly nighttime temperatures.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.