A League of Their Rhône Rangers–Part Two

I would happily buy the Skinner 2012 Grenache. How often do we mention a wine that is fun to drink? Too often we fret about big wines, “profound” wines, wines that will amaze us and impress our friends—the Law Estate might do that for you. The Skinner 2012 Grenache has all of the grape’s bright, sweet red fruit, cherry and raspberry, but with a subtle bit of what they would call “garrigue” in France—that ineffable aroma of an herbal landscape. (I’m tempted to say the Skinner Grenache is a garrigueste wine, but that’s far too vague and stupid. Or exactly too vague and stupid, depending on what you think about my writing.) I looked, and the 2012 Skinner Grenache is sold out on their website. But sign up and buy the 2013 when it’s released; it will be terrific, I’m sure, and well worth the $26. I’ve liked every bottle I’ve tasted from Skinner, and loved many, if not most. If you love Rhône varieties at very fair prices, man, start buying Skinner.

Maybe the single best wine I tasted all day (and I sampled but a mere pittance, about 70 wines, of what was available, so forgive me my hyperbole) was the Skinner Vineyards 2012 Mourvèdre Estate El Dorado. Winemaker Chris Pittenger is one talented guy. Much of his career he focused on Pinot Noir, with time spent at Williams Selyem, and four years working at Marcassin. Bob Cabral and Helen Turley AND John Wetlaufer?! I’m guessing Chris used to be six inches taller. Yet it’s those Pinot Noir guys who seem to grasp the delicacy of Mourvèdre’s aromatics. They aren’t easy to get right, it seems. But the Skinner Estate Mourvèdre is pitch perfect (and from what must be pretty young vines). Blueberries dominate the high notes, but then all the savory components chime in—that garrigue again, olive, balsamic, soy sauce, maybe fennel. It’s that captivating mix of sweet (very sweet blueberry) and savory and it comes across that way as it dances across the palate. It’s $58, but at this level of quality, that’s a fair price. I know it will age beautifully, it has the sort of balance one admires in a ballerina, a balance earned with hard work and talent, and I hope I get to rendezvous with it again one day about fifteen years from now. It was tutu delicious.

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