Thursday, February 01, 2007

Grenache---Blanc?

I had never even heard of grenache blanc when I wandered into Malibu Wines last month and saw this bottle on offer. Made by Kris Curran, the winemaker at Sea Smoke, on her new personal label, there are fewer than 100 acres of grenache blanc under cultivation in the US. The wine is popular in both France (where it can provide up to 50% of the juice in Chateauneuf-du-Pape whites) and Spain (where the grape originated in the Priorat region). This is not a "white" version of a red grenache wine--it's a whole other grape.

The 2005 Curran Grenache Blanc ($25.2o, Malibu Wines) is a very good QPR wine that is pale straw in color, with aromas of fresh peaches and apples. A slight spritz on your first sip is the preamble to flavors of ripe, round peaches and melons. As you swallow, you are left with a rich, juicy impression that is all fruit. While grenache blanc is often aged in barriques, Curran ferments in stainless steel and inhibits malolactic fermentation to highlight the fresh flavors of the varietal. This is a full-bodied white with a luscious texture--but none of that comes from oak. It's all from the high-quality fruit.

I looked on the web for some suggestions of what to serve with Grenache Blanc and many sites mentioned pumpkin and squash dishes. I decided to try David at Cooking Chat's recipe for a chicken and butternut squash risotto. He didn't post a picture of his dish, so I took a picture of mine. And I hope David will forgive me for swapping the garlic powder for minced garlic, and omitting the truffle oil which I didn't have in the house and couldn't face shopping for it! It was absolutely excellent, and its rich yet delicate flavors went perfectly with this full-bodied, soft wine. It would also be good with spicy, creamy dishes like Thai and Indian curries, or with traditional French bistro fare. Kris's wines were recently featured at a wine-tasting dinner at Akbar in Santa Monica, where the 2005 Grenache Blanc was paired with an Indian fish dish, confirming my sense that the wine would go as well with spicy fare as it did with my risotto.

This is a special bottle of wine, and even if your normal wine ceiling is $20 every now and again it pays to go above it as long as the wine you are purchasing is of sufficient interest and quality. This one is. There are quite a few bottles of this wine available through retailers (check WineZap for one near you, or one that can ship to you). Curran also has an email list to notify customers of upcoming releases and allocations, in case you want to explore her syrah and other wines.

13 comments:

John said...

Very interesting. I've been looking high and low to find a grenache blanc. I've found some Spanish wines that have a good bit, but nothing that's 100%.

I'll keep my eyes peeled for this one.

Dr. Debs said...

It's a goody, so well worth keeping on your shopping list. She's definitely a wine-maker to watch, too. I've heard very good things about her syrah, as well, which is a little further out of my price bracket.

Seb said...

I can also recommend the 2003 Curran Sangiovese, one of the best California-style sangiovese bottles out there. It came out a while ago and I don't know if there's a more recent vintage on the way, though, so it may be hard to find.

Seb
thetable.wordpress.com

Dr. Debs said...

Welcome back, Seb. Good to know about the sangiovese. I've not seen that one anywhere around, though I have seen the Syrah. I put myself on Curran's mailing list, so if I hear news I'll post back here.

cookingchat said...

Sounds like an interesting wine, will keep an eye out for grenache blanc now. Glad you liked the risotto! And fresh garlic is always better, I happened to have made the dish in a rare instance when powdered was all I had.

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks for the great recipe, David. And good to see that Left Over Tuesdays are taking off. Kudos to you!

Victoria said...

I am a BIG fan of the Sea Smoke Pinot Noirs and I can not beleive I missed that Kris Curran has her own lable as well. I've never heard of Grenach Blanc either but definately have to find this bottle.
Cheers!

Victoria said...

By the way, I have reviewed quite a few wines from Santa Ynez valley and surrounging area. Check it out at www.tastesoflife.blogspot.com
Cheers!

Dr. Debs said...

Welcome, Victoria, and thanks for the link to your site. As a Kris Curran fan, it's worth getting yourself on her mailing list now. I'm sure that her wines are going to become cult favorites.

Jason Haas said...

Grenache Blanc is a treat, and I think will become better and better known in California. For anyone who's interested, we did a lot of research on it before we brought it into the country, and have it summarized on our Web site (www.tablascreek.com/grenacheblanc.html).

Dr. Debs said...

Welcome, Jason. And thanks for the great links to your site. I'm looking forward to drinking some Tablas Creek wines this summer when I'm on the Sonoma Coast, since our local store stocks a great selection of them. I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for the Grenache Blanc.

Anonymous said...

Preston of Dry Creek has vinted a Grenache Blanc. It has good acid and it fermented to dry. It is a heavier wine that will stand up well to cream sauces and rich shell fish.

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for that piece of news. I love Preston wines in general (Madame Preston is one of my favorites) and I will try to swing over there this Thanksgiving when I'm in that neck of the woods and try it out.