June Domestic Wine: 2008 Domaine de la Terre Rouge ‘Tête-à-Tête’, Sierra Foothills, CALIFORNIA
Domaine de la Terre Rouge, which specializes in single-site Syrahs from some of the highest altitude vineyards in California, has released their own version of a self-styled ‘fun and easy drinking’ wine. Tête-à-Tête is a blend of Côte-Rôtie classics (it’s 34% Grenache, 34% Mourvèdre, and 32% Syrah), but blended from the estate’s younger vines and barrel lots showing plenty of sweet, forward fruit. With this particular grape trio, that means lots of dark summer flavors; boysenberry, black cherry, blackberry and currant— the style, say, of a top-end Côtes-du-Rhône Villages.
History of Rhone Reds and Their Relation to Domaine de la Terre Rouge: According to the Rhone Rangers, there are twenty-two traditional varieties grown in France’s Rhone Valley in eastern France. Twelve of these grapes are planted in the United States including the best-known Syrah and Viognier, plus Mourvedre, Grenache, Carignane, Roussanne, Marsanne and Petite Sirah. Some lesser known Rhone varietals grown in the United States are Counoise, Cinsault, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul. California has over 4000 acres of Rhone varietal grapes planted of which almost half is Syrah.
Examples of Rhone varietals include the popular Syrah, Viognier and Mourvedre. Syrah (also known as Shiraz in Australia and South Africa) is the major Rhone varietal in the United States. Syrah is a sturdy grape in the vineyard and tends to deliver dark fruits and white pepper. Viognier, the most popular white Rhone, is probably the worlds least widely planted premium grape. In the vineyard the yields are low, as is the acid. It is temperamental in the winery, but well-made Viognier delivers an exquisite, exotic bouquet of apricots, pears tropical fruits and floral. Mourvedre is a grape found in many areas, called Monastrell in Spain and Mataro in Portugal. It is often used as a blending wine, producing good acid and some astringency with blackberry aromas and flavors.
Varietals: 34% Grenache, 34% Mourvèdre, and 32% Syrah
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Tasting Notes: This wine is a true over achiever! Great mouth feel and texture that is eminently enjoyable everyday. The 2008 has a deep boysenberry fruit, with smoky, meaty, and gamey flavors that emphasize their terroir.
Food Pairings: The wine pairs well with grilled meats and barbeque. Throw a steak on the grill and enjoy with a glass of this wine!
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Earthy and rustic, with cedary smoky flavors. A wine that has a history…one of the most affordable and best tasting Rhone blends coming out of California. The wine has a roasted, meaty mid-palate, with a long savory lip-smacking finish!”-JL