Grenache Noir = Grenache Nouveau


Over the past few years, Grenache has quietly gone through a revolution in California and Stolpman Vineyards’ program mirrors the change.
Jon Bonne wrote an article back in March of 2011 {READ ARTICLE} about Grenache’s promising future and followed up on the varietal earlier this year {READ ARTICLE}
Friends like Russell From of Herman Story make Grenaches so juicy and inviting, they’re hard not to like. The Paso Robles style became the grape’s identity in the State, but Bonne, champion of the IPOB movement, advocates the brighter, fresher style that now comes out of the cooler pockets of California.
In the heat of the summer, we find this style compelling. I find myself reaching for bottles like 2012 Grenache, or even lighter wines like 2013 Carbonic Sangiovese.


S T O L P M A N  G R E N A C H E : T H E  P A S T
The 112 degree June heat spike in 2008 gave us an opulent, ripe Grenache. The frost reduced yields of 2008 further intensified the wine and folks traversing up to Paso Robles fell in love with it.
I enjoyed the wine, but in a slutty, high-octane sort of way. In the tasting room, we prefaced the wine saying “this isn’t our typical wine style, but it’s delicious, so we bottled it.”
The wine sold out within a couple short months, and we took a year off from varietal bottling. We didn’t want to shock those consumers who fell in love with the 2008 and expected it again upon the release of a much cooler 2009 vintage. Instead, we gave all of our 2009 Grenache production to La Cuadrilla. The 2009 La Cuadrilla happened to pair exceptionally well with rotisserie goat tacos.


T H E   R E V O L U T I O N
The summer of 2010 never heated up, granting one of the coolest-climate styles in our history. The resulting Grenache showed bright and exciting, and as timing would have it, consumers were in the market for this style. I attributed the fervent reception to local wine drinkers looking for Pinot Noir alternatives.
Now looking back on it, Grenache was in the middle of a revolution, and people now sought out lighter-bodied, brighter Grenaches to enjoy in the summer-time and with lighter fare.

T H E  C H A N G  E
By 2012, we invested heavily in thick, concrete fermenters that allowed us to more easily ferment whole-cluster. Whole-cluster fermentation grants the Grenache a dry, woody backbone without masking the fresh, vibrant flavors with oakiness. We foot trod the Grenache upon placing the fruit in concrete, gently bursting a small portion of the grapes. The majority of the grapes remain unbroken, still taught and perfectly ripe. The one-foot thick concrete walls of the fermenters retain the cold of the night-picked fruit, and the grapes therefore keep their cool, crisp flavor profile. Even more significantly, the sugar locked in the grapes ferments without exposure to oxygen, granting even more freshness.


T H E  F U T U R E
We are proud of the fine balance we achieved with the 2012 Grenache and we hope to produce similar results in the future. Our wines always change based on the conditions of each vintage, but producing such a bright-styled wine in a warmer vintage like 2012 indicates we can easily replicate the style even with a hot growing season.
In Ballard Canyon, our Grenache will remain dark red in color, rather than dark pink. On the other hand, we do not aim to make opaque purple Grenache. Grenache is a naturally high-alcohol varietal, and even the lighter 2012 contains 14.5% alc. Even with Syrah, we like the flavor profile most between 14 and 14.5% alcohol and we believe this match of phenolic ripeness and brix count is part of the Ballard Canyon terroir. In short, both our Syrah and Grenache will never be lean or tart. With its pure fruit profile, we believe the style of our Grenache Nouveau is one everyone can love, as long as people don’t expect a monstrous, weighty fruit bomb.