2017 was a year for a few firsts for us and one of those was making our Tre Gatti Grenache Blanc. This varietal may be a bit obscure and not widely known in the U.S. so here’s a little history:
Grenache Blanc is a genetic relative of Grenache Noir. Grapevines tend toward genetic mutation (which is one reason why so many varietals exist around the world) and it is believed that Grenache Blanc (literally White Grenache) was a mutation of Grenache Noir (Black Grenache). This varietal originated in Spain and then was eventually planted in the warmer southern regions of France. It was imported into the U.S. by Tablas Creek Winery in Paso Robles in the mid-1990’s and has grown in popularity on the Central Coast over the years.
This varietal is relatively vigorous and easy to grow in even challenging conditions. It can crop heavily and produces large, straw-colored clusters. It is often blended with Rousanne and other Rhône varietals but in California it is also often bottled on its own.
Tre Gatti Vineyard planted Grenache Blanc in 2015 and the first crop was harvested in 2017. We pressed whole clusters in our small bladder presses and chilled the juice immediately then racked it the following day to 55 gallon stainless steel drums for fermentation in our cool barrel room. Our goal in doing this was to achieve some complexity by having a few different fermentations but preserving the freshness and acidity of the wine by keeping it in stainless steel. This wine did not undergo any malolactic fermentation.
The result: a fresh wine with bright acidity but a rich mouthfeel. Usually wines that have this kind of acidity tend to seem thin or taste sour but that is the magic of this varietal — a perfectly dry wine with nice weight and texture. It is citrusy and has notes of green apple with just a touch of anise — a fun departure from heavy, brooding, barrel fermented white wines and perfect for summer sipping. The acidity also makes it food friendly and can accompany a wide-range of foods.