Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Salsa Verde-d Lamb Rosettes And Panzanella Salad With 2012 A Tribute To Grace Grenache

"Is someone making frappato in Oregon?"

That's how the 2012 A Tribute To Grace Grenache SBH tasted at times, a wine that's been a darling of the Jon Bonné New California movement, a wine I've been trying to get since I read Bonné's book, and a wine that was just given the top spot on Bonné's list of Rhône-style reds in the San Francisco Chronicle.

And when you want the vitamins and goodness that comes with a summer salad in the winter, "Just put bread in it!"

Paulina Market lamb flank "rosettes" marinated in Michael Symon salsa verde, seared medium-rare to medium. Rosette form is our lamb going forward. It's so darn easy, you get the lamb you're looking for, and it's so less a pain in the ass than rack. Green bean-sundried tomato-charred scallion-parsley-mint salad with panzanella-style bread soaked in pickled mustard seed-fennel seed dressing, with more dressing drizzled on the salad. Simple. Substantial. Full of the vitamins and greenness. Clean. Delicious. Happy.

And the wine helped bring some unique interest to the meal, but missed just a bit in being broad enough to capture our full attention.

Hour decant, which was perfect, as it started to fade a bit at the three-hour mark. Very clean, very pure. It's light, but has a feistiness. Rose-y. Has that particular and specific taste of clean dirt and fall leaves that we've only found from Oregon wines, oddly. A very singular, unique freshness to start that transitions into being very grenache-y on the mid-palate, emphasizing good grenache's floral accents, but tails off into something maybe too ethereal to leave that "crap, this is good!" impression long after you've tasted it. Juuuuuust missed. Very much liked it. Can't say love quite yet.

The shift in California wines like this, like the wines that Mr. Bonné highlights, comes from taking grapes and finding what California terrior can do with them. Not mimicking a style each grape is so used to. Not shoving it into a style box that makes people feel comfortable. This seemed to be Angela Osbourne saying, "I like grenache. I can grow it here in the Santa Barbara Highlands. I'm gonna do it, not screw with it, keep things cool,  and see what happens."

It's delicious. Maybe misses a true third act, and might be a wee touch steep in price ($45 - Perman) for what you're getting with similar food matches in terms of weight and guts being $10-15 cheaper, like Cru Beaujolais, Occhipinti frappato, Lambrusco, that crazy Luis Pato ferñao pires-baga blend, Arnot-Roberts Trousseau, even lighter showings of Ponzi.

It's not quite fair to compare this one with those, but when you're not rich, $10-15 means the opportunity for a better protein, maybe splurging on some fancier side, etc. Extrapolate that difference out to an entire year and it's real dollars. But that's the economics of California wine, when vineyards haven't been in the family for decades.

One more bottle. We'll see what happens.

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