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February 5, 2016 Wine Pick of the Week

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Ecluse Rendition Picmonkey

2013 Rendition

 

Écluse Wines & Lock Vineyard

Paso Robles

Alcohol: 15.2%

Suggested Retail: $38

 

“Rendition, the identity Écluse gave to the wine we’ve chosen as this week’s ‘Pick,’ is what’s called a ‘proprietary name.’ The custom in America is to label wines by the name of the predominant grape used. Under current law, this means 75% or more of such variety. But what if a winery makes a wine that contains less than that percentage of an easily-identifiable grape variety? A wine that is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon—but less than the magical 75% standard—would have to be called ‘Meritage’ or something as prosaic as just a 'red wine' if not given one of these proprietary names.

”Some fine California wines have done this. Many have been in the general category of ‘Bordeaux Blends’ which tend to emulate their cousins made in that part of France, where winemakers produce wines from what they deem complementary grapes without being fettered by the percentages.

"The same winemaking style applies in the Rhône Valley of France, where many grape varieties can be used in the blend. Syrah, the major grape in the north of the Rhône is the most significant component in this week’s ‘Pick,’ the 2013 Ḗcluse, yet it makes up just 48% of the blend. The balance is 39% Grenache and 13% Mouvèrdre. This combination of grapes, popular France’s Rhône Valley and becoming so in California, is sometimes called a ‘GSM blend’ in this country.

“Whatever this wine is called, we think it tastes great. It comes from Paso Robles on California’s Central Coast. This region is home to some very good Cabernet Sauvignon, but its warm climate is ideal for Zinfandel and Rhône grape varieties such as those in Rendition. There’s lots of fruit in the nose, but it’s not one-dimensional—we pick out blackberry, black cherry and dark plum. Subtle and layered spice notes are in background and there’s just a wisp of ground black pepper. More of the spice and pepper come through in the taste—but not as heat, just flavor. It’s big wine, but not hot and jammy--just a lot of flavor. Some of that bacon/smoked meat trait that is characteristic of Syrah can also be discerned. For those who’d like supportive opinion, the 2013 Écluse Rendition was a Double Gold awardée at the recent San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.”

Food Affinity: “Red meat is our first thought. Beef is a natural. Something like a T-bone grilled over mesquite charcoal would be hard to beat. Grilled brats or even smoked pork chops might also work.”

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