Standout choices among Rhone-style red blends

  • By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue Great Northwest Wine
  • Friday, March 21, 2014 12:30pm
  • LifeHops and Sips

One of the hottest categories in Northwest wine is red blends. And red blends made in the style of France’s Rhone Valley are among the most fascinating.

Referred to as “GSM” blends, the wines are most often made with the red Rhone grapes Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, though they also can include Cinsault, Counoise, Carignan and Petite Sirah.

In the spring issue of Wine Press Northwest magazine, we take a look at a variety of red Rhone varieties, particularly GSM-style blends.

These are among the best examples we tasted during a blind judging for the publication. These wines are made in small amounts, so check with your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2011 Members Only, Horse Heaven Hills, $42: This small-production wine from a top Yakima Valley winery is a blend of Grenache (57 percent), Syrah and Mourvedre using grapes from the estate Destiny Ridge Vineyard. It opens with aromas of blueberry, cherry and vanilla, followed by flavors of huckleberry, cherry, chocolate and blueberry. It’s all backed with plush tannins and beautiful integration and balance.

Icon Cellars 2011 du Pape, Columbia Valley, $27: This small winery in Carnation is crafting superb wines. This is a blend of Grenache (54 percent), Syrah and Mourvedre that opens with aromas of dense, dark fruit, ripe strawberry and plum, followed by rich flavors of ripe black fruit backed with mild tannins, elegant acidity and beautiful depth.

Efeste 2011 Emmy, Wahluke Slope, $45: Efeste has quickly become an iconic winery in Woodinville, and this Mourvedre-based blend only heightens its status with wine lovers and collectors. This gorgeous wine reveals aromas of fresh-ground coffee, exotic spices, red plum and strawberry. A rich, dense entry leads to a core of ripe plum and blackberry. This is a thick, focused red wine.

Upland Estates Winery 2011 Julian, Snipes Mountain, $28: Third-generation grape grower Todd Newhouse and winemaker Robert Smasne combine on this blend that is an even split between Grenache and Mourvedre, with 20 percent Syrah to balance it out. The wine is named in honor of Julian Steenbergen, who made wine on Snipes Mountain in the 1950s. It reveals exotic aromas of violet, lilac, rose petal and black cherry, and transitions into rich flavors of vanilla, boysenberry and pomegranate.

Bunnell Family Cellar 2008 Lia, Columbia Valley, $34: Former Chateau Ste. Michelle head winemaker Ron Bunnell is a master with Rhone varieties. He crafted this blend of four grapes: Mourvedre, Grenache, Counoise and Syrah. The result is a stylish red with aromas of anise, dusty cherry, French vanilla and cherry, followed by textured flavors of blackberry and ripe plum.

3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2011 Reserve Syrah-Mourvedre, Snake River Valley, $26: Based in tiny Eagle, Idaho, just north of Boise, 3 Horse Ranch grows organic grapes for its wines. This is a Syrah-heavy blend that begins with aromas of smoky bacon, dusty plum and minerality, followed by elegant flavors of blackberry, blueberry and huckleberry, all backed with bright acidity and modest tannins.

Kana Winery 2009 Dark Star, Columbia Valley, $22: Dark Star is a Syrah-leading blend that includes Mourvedre and Grenache and reveals with aromas of vanilla, black cherry and chalkboard dust, followed by blackberry, bacon and spices. It’s a gorgeous wine made by this Yakima winery.

Doyenne 2011 Metier, Red Mountain, $44: This label for highly regarded DeLille Cellars in Woodinville is a blend of nearly equal parts Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah. It opens with aromas of strawberry and light cherry, followed by elegant flavors of pomegranate and ripe cherry. The moderate tannins lift up undertones of the ripe fruit in this powerful yet refined red.

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

More in Life

Mukilteo’s Hani Hani scores with the police chief

The Japanese restaurant serves dishes (poke, ramen, grill) inspired by the Hawaiian islands.

‘Coco’ is another eye-popping home run for Pixar/Disney

The animated movie’s a lively, touching tale of honoring family, following dreams.

Beer of the Week: Scuttlebutt’s Barrel-aged Belgian Winter

Made in 2013, the dark strong ale was stowed away in barrels. The brewery tests one each year.

‘Love, Chaos and Dinner’ an Teatro ZinZanni’s original show

The “Parsian cabaret” is a superb circus dinner theater operation in Marymoor Park through April 29.

Heavy Hollywood headlines: Robert Horton’s movies preview

In the midst of all the sexual-misconduct allegations, the holiday film season offers some relief.

Denzel Washington’s remarkable performance isn’t helped by plot

The actor is convincing as an awkward, eccentric lawyer, but unconvincing contrivances pile up.

‘The Breadwinner’ animation is strong, but its story is stilted

The Cartoon Saloon film never lets you forget that you’re here to learn an important lesson.

Pianist Kaitlyn Gia Lee, 10, of Mill Creek, will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major on Nov. 26 with the Everett Philharmonic Orchestra.
Young pianist to perform Mozart with Everett Philharmonic

Kaitlyn Gia Lee, 10, of Mill Creek, will play the piano at the Music for the Imagination concert.

Liz Oyama as Belle, Jimmi Cook as Gaston and John Han as Lefou star in the Edmonds Driftwood Players production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” opening Nov. 24. Magic Photo
In Driftwood’s ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ Belle has girl-power bend

Edmonds Driftwood Players presents Disney’s adaptation of the fair tale Nov. 24 through Dec. 17.

Most Read