Meet the gregarious Grenache – the “new girl” in town!
A perfect match for Melville!
Ladies and Gentlemen…you may have noticed with the recent release of our glorious Rosé, a mysterious new grape varietal has made its debut at Melville. Please join us in welcoming the gregarious, graceful and downright glamorous varietal of…Grenache! (Round of applause)
Who is this elusive newbie that seemed to suddenly appear on the scene and how did “she” get here? Play along with us while we reveal the answers. For best enjoyment, pour yourself a glass of our new 2021 Rosé of Grenache to sip and savor, as you read about the fabulous journey of our gorgeous “new girl” and her coming appearances at Melville.
Mademoiselle Grenache enters stage left in her rose-colored dress of pink, melon and gold, topped with a pearly white cap. She curtsies, swirls and takes a bow, while the audience inhales an intriguing whiff of watermelon rind and rose petal.
Interviewer: (Breathing in the intoxicating aroma) Tell us, Mademoiselle Grenache…where DID you come from and how did you arrive here at Melville?
“Bon jour, kiss kiss. I come from the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region in France, oui oui, from a very prestigious vineyard, the Domaine de Pignan at Château Rayas, maybe you’ve heard of it? (she winks) Anyhoo…I’m a natural red and was blessed with good genes. My ancestors were selected for their plump and flavorful exquisiteness and gently transported to America, landing at Saxum Vineyards in Paso Robles (by way of Monsieur Justin Smith), then onto my current home, by way of the gentlemanly Monsieur Melville, himself. Ooh, la la.”
Interviewer: When did you arrive at the Estate and what have you been doing since?
“About 3 years ago, Monsieur Melville and crew planted me and my entourage on a little over 3 lovely acres of the eastside of their Sta. Rita Hills Estate and the groundbreaking adventure began. I’ve spent the last few years sunning and soaking up this glorious cold-climate environment, with a yearly trim, ready to make my grand debut as a gleaming, gorgeous Rosé, the very first of its kind (and may I say the best) at Melville. Everyone has been so generous in welcoming me, and I’ve been getting the most amazing reviews upon my release. I’ve been called delectable, vibrant and bright, and everyone, I mean everyone, is asking for a little taste of this brilliance.”
Interviewer: Ok ok, no need to gloat. Have a seat and let’s bring out the other half of this gleeful duo…Monsieur Melville himself, ready to answer our further questions about this garish varietal.
Monsieur Melville arrives on stage…Grenache gives him a wink and gracefully takes a seat.
Interviewer: Welcome Monsieur Melville…tell us sir, what are your plans with this gregarious varietal and why did you choose to bring her into your repertoire of wines?
Monsieur Melville (MM): “We’re really excited to have Grenache take residence on our property, and have been quite impressed with her elegant lineage. We spent many years deliberating what to add next, looking for a Rhone varietal, but most importantantly, one that would be challenged by the cold-climate, work well with whole-cluster fermentation and in neutral wood (like our Pinot Noir and Syrah). In considering these attributes…Grenache was a slam dunk.”
Grenache blushes and the audience hoots.
Interviewer: How has it been for you and your crew, having her in the vineyard? Any challenges?
MM: “Since this is a new varietal for us, we have spent the last 3 years learning how to farm it and turn this rambunctious fruit into a Melville-style wine. It’s been fun working with the characteristics of Grenache, which has a tendency to form massive, ripe clusters. In order to keep that grandioseness in check, our crew has to plan the exact number of clusters we want, then start cultivating and dropping excess fruit early on (as early as April) in order for the vines to give all their energy into ripening the amount of fruit needed for our wines. Another challenge has been her tendency to bleach in the sun – so sensitive. We have to be very cautious with the leaf canopy to make sure she gets just the right amount of light to ripen, without being too much, which would then decrease her vibrant hue. It’s been a process, but this varietal has such promise and we are really excited for our newest Rosé and our future red Grenache, which is still in barrel.”
Interviewer: Tell me a little more about these wines, Monsieur Melville, and how they were made.
MM: “Well for the Rosé, we set out to create a “true Rosé,” meaning we specifically grew this fruit to craft this wine, instead of using the Saignée method (Saignée is French for “bleed”), which in comparison, is taking the “leftovers” if you will, of a red wine fermentation. With the direct method, we treat the Grenache like one of our white wines. After hand-harvesting at night, we whole-cluster foot stomp and give her a much needed spa day – 24 hour cold-soak with skin contact – so she can develop that beautiful, vibrant color, aromatic compounds and exquisite flavors, such that you are witnessing right here…”
Interviewer: (Looks over at the captivating Grenache.) Oh yes indeed. Please continue…
MM: “After the cold-soak she was direct pressed, with half going into barrel and half in stainless steel tank, where she awaited her debut. Bottled in early February, the curtains were pulled and our Rosé was released. She’s wonderfully mesmerizing with her notes of hibiscus leaf, white strawberry and grapefruit – making quite the scene in both our tasting rooms.”
Interviewer: (Starting to swoon) I can believe that with these, dare I say, tantalizing flavors. But what about the co-star, the future new red?
MM: “Our first 2021 harvest of Grenache was specfically for the Rosé. For the red Grenache, we harvested fruit from 2020, and 2021, and both wines are currently in barrel. Honestly, we are unsure when the 2020 will be bottled and released. No rush…giving it time to get ready. Maybe Spring 2023? Who knows. Here, patience is a virtue, as some say.”
Grenache nods her head, kisses her finger, and points to Monsieur Melville.
Well there you have it, Ladies and Gentleman…all about the ‘new girl’ in town, and straight from the horse’s mouth. Please raise your glasses and give a hand to the fabulous new duo of Mademoiselle Grenache and Monsieur Melville…we look forward to seeing how you both get along over the coming years and to sampling the results of this much-anticipated partnership! Bravo!
Mademoiselle Grenache and Monsieur Melville smile, wave and bow to the audience, then exit stage right, hand-in-hand, and head off to Melville, Melvilleland…
Thanks for joining along in the fun!
-Your Friends at Melville
Grenache vineyard prior to harvest at the Melville Estate, looking north.