Friday, March 21, 2014

Washington GSM Blend v. Chateauneuf du Pape

The Pro Cyclists just completed Paris-Nice, also known as the The Race to the Sun.  This traditional early season race starts in Paris and heads South to Nice.  The finish is in the coastal town of Nice (Duh! It is right there in the name of the race).

The final stage of the race was won by Arthur Vichot, the French National Champion.  A great finish that is sure to give a boost to French national pride.

The race touched down near Chateauneuf du Pape for the start of the sixth stage of the race.  That seems like a good enough reason to feature a Washington Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre blend taking on a Chateauneuf du Pape challenger.

2008 Rotie Cellars Southern Blend v. 2010 Domaine du Pere Pape CdP la Crau de Ma Mere

Tale of the Tape

2008 Rotie Cellars Southern Blend

70% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 15% Mourvedre
From Alder Ridge and an undisclosed vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills.

Aged in 2nd and 3rd use French Oak barrels.

Purchased on a surprising close out deal at a local Washington Liquor store for slightly less than $20.

2010 Domaine du Pere Pape CdP la Crau de Ma Mere

80% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre from 105 year old vines

Purchased from Garagiste for $29.84

Round 1.  First Opening

The La Crau de ma Mere might have the longest name in Lucha Vino Luchador history.  The ring announcer was practically out of breath just making the introductions.  The crowd was breathless after the CdP Luchador catapulted from the top rope catching the Rotie Cellars by surprise.

La Crau is showing a nose of medium red berries, funky earth and cedar pepper spices.  The palate features sweet raspberries, tart cedar pepper spices and a slightly sweet finish.

Rotie Cellars is rocked back on its heels and shoots back with an attack that features a nose of earthy funk and dark smokey berries.  The palate is a bit more restrained with medium dark logan berries, tart cedar and some hints of smoke that lead to a tart tannin inspired light white pepper finish.

France takes round one despite a fierce comeback from the Rotie Cellars luchador.

Round 2.  One Hour Later

La Crau de ma Mere isn't taking any chances.  The French luchador appears to be more interested in protecting its one round lead than wrastlin'   This wine fighter is showing consistency with a nose of savory raspberry, brambles land ight pepper spices.  The palate is richer with notes of raspberry, cola and tart white pepper spices capped off by a finish of tart cedar pepper spices.

Rotie Cellars is bulked up and on the offensive looking for openings for a take down.  The nose is  darker with red berries, light smoke, cedar and pepper spices lingering in the background.  The palate is darker as well with logan berries, tart cedar and white pepper spices that lead to a slightly sweet finish of cedar and cherry bark.

This round is closer to call and La Crau ended up paying the price for being conservative.  The judges award round two to Rotie Cellars for being more aggresive.

Round 3. One Day Later

The Chateauneuf du Pape isn't taking any chances in this round.  Shifting styles and focusing on agility the French Challenger is floating like a butterfly in hopes of stinging like a bee.  The nose is full of savory strawberries, rhubarb and light cedar spices.  The palate has backed off a bit with notes of strawberry, raspberry and cigar box spices.  The finish is dark and sweet with some light white pepper.

Rotie Cellars is working to fend off the lightning fast moves of the French Challenger.  The nose is showing currants, floral notes, cedar and light clove spices.  The palate is showing some stamina with dark currants, logan berry, white pepper, licorice and cocoa.  The finish is dry with hints of cocoa powder.

This is another tight round that requires a judges decision.  Controversy!  The French judge holds the tie-breaker and awards the final round to La Crau de ma Mere.  The crowd is indignant and so is the Rotie Cellars Southern Blend luchador.  No matter how much they complain the victor is still the challenger from France.

What are you going to do when the French National Champion wins the final stage of the first major race in France for the season?  The more you complain the worse it gets!  France Wins, France Wins...

Wrap up and overall observations.

Both of these wines were good and improved over several days.  The more the CdP was open, the more tobacco leaf character started to emerge.  The Rotie Cellars was not as robust as I had anticipated, but it was still a dynamite wine.

I would recommend both of these luchadors and would welcome either one of them back for a match in the future.  The Rotie Cellars seems to be hitting its peak.  The La Crau de ma Mere is tasting good now and will probably be even better with a few more years in the cellar.