Thursday, April 3, 2014

Washington Grenache v. Priorat

The stage racers spent a week in North Eastern Spain racing the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya last week.  You would think that Spain is a nice sunny place to visit this time of year.  The weather might be sunny in the Southern or central parts of the country, but Catalunya was not so nice.  The province is hilly and mountainous with heights reaching elevations of 2200 meters.

The race was one for the climbers.  Catalunya's own Joaquin Rodriguez (el Purito) won the overall general classification with Alberto Cantador coming in 2nd four seconds behind and America's TJ Van Garderen was third three more seconds back.  TJ is a bright young star and this finish shows that he is working his way toward a fine showing in some of this season's bigger races.

The Lucha Vino challenge features a blend of Carignan, Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon from Priorat taking on a Washington State Grenache.

2011 Syncline Grenache v. 2005 Lipscom & Tobella Priorat Mosaic

Tale of the Tape

2011 Syncline Grenache

100% Grenache from three vineyards:
Sugarloaf 30% Yakima Valley AVA
McKinley Springs 27% Horse Heaven Hills AVA
Ciel du Cheval 26% Horse Heaven Hills AVA

Aged for 12 months in neutral barrels.

Purchased from Full Pull Wines for $21.99

2005 Mosaic

From the Priorat DOC
39% Carignan
41% Grenache
20% Cabernet Sauvignon

Aged for 14 months in French oak barrels and another 6 months in bottle.

Purchased from Garagiste for $19.99

Round 1.  First opening

The Mosaic is a bit of a mystery luchador.  Similar to many of the Luchadors from Jon Rimmerman's Garagiste wrestling stable, there is minimal information available.  The mysterious luchador rocks into the ring with some bold and bodacious maneuvers.  The nose is dark with currants, woodsy roasted coffee and a slight menthol spice character.  The palate is more medium bodied with notes of dried flowers, cherries and herbal characteristics.  The finish is very dry and includes some white pepper notes.

The Syncline grenache from Washington isn't backing down from the Priorat bruiser.  The Washington state luchador is much more nimble and agile flashing some stylish spinning kicks and a nose that features creamy strawberries, dried meadow flowers, brambles and light earthy spices.  The palate shows tart strawberry and rhubarb, herbs and layers of spice and floral notes that carry over to a nice finish with an acidic kick to the face.

This match is showing a big contrast in styles with the first round going to the sleaker more stylish luchador from Washington.

Round 2.  One hour after opening

The Mosaic isn't showing any signs of slowing down.  This powerful challenger from Priorat is working to dish out some punishment!  The nose continues to be dark and brooding with currants, smokey roasted coffee and some underbrush.  The palate is darker with currants, some citrus orange rind notes and hints of cedar spice that finishes off with tart hints of raspberry.

The Syncline is sticking to the speed formula and remaining consistent with creamy savory strawberries, herbal dried meadow flowers and brambles.  The palate shows tart strawberry, rhubarb and layers of floral and spice notes at the end of the palate.  The floral and spice characters repeat on the finish along with some hints of tobacco leaf.

The Syncline luchador threw some new moves at the Mosaic and took round 2 for a commanding 2-0 lead.

Round 3.  One day after opening

This is do or die for the Mosaic.  The only hope for the Spanish luchador is to score a knock out.  For a big luchador the Mosaic is showing some amazing stamina and intimidation staring down the luchador from Syncline. 

This wine from Priorat is continuing to build character with a nose of dark musty black fruit and white pepper.  The palate has built to a force of dark cherry, licorice and dusty cedar spices with some menthol clove spice and cracked pepper on a slightly dry finish.

Syncline is bobbing and weaving and doing its best to stay out of harm's way.  The nose is dominated by earthy herbal strawberries along with notes of cedar dried meadow flowers.  The palate is also featuring earthy strawberries, slightly creamy floral notes followed by hidden spices and a tart cedar spicebox finish.

The final round was a close affair showcasing the brute force of Priorat against the speed and agility of the Washington grenache.  Ultimately the judges award the final round to the Mosaic strictly based on a consistent display of power that did not diminish over time.

Wrap up and overall observations

The Mosaic came on strong at the end, but it wasn't enough to win the match.  The additional character of the Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon added some muscle to the mix for the Spanish Challenger.  The Syncline grenache was able to overcome the powerful attack with blinding speed and finesse.

If you like your wines big and dark then you will enjoy the Mosaic from Priorat.  Fans of grenache will definitely enjoy the Syncline grenache.  If you are curious about grenache the Syncline is also an excellent representative of the luscious layered wines that can be delivered by this grape in Washington.

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