Joel Gott Grenache California 2013 Review

A short break from posting wine club newsletters for a day, here’s my Joel Gott Grenache California 2013 Review. I love Grenache, but don’t see a very logical way forward for the grape in the state.  Some more information on that below, as well as plenty of history about why the Gott family name likely sounds familiar if you’ve ever been to Napa Valley.

Video Transcription:

Joel Gott Grenache California 2013 Review Front LabelHi, guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. I’m just going to hold this up so you can get a little better look. This is Joel Gott Grenache for 2013 and it is a generic California version of the varietl. Someone could pick this up for a couple of reasons. First, I thought it was important to actually tell the story of the Gott Family.

If you’ve ever been to Napa Valley, or really to San Francisco these days, you might have seen, at least over the course of the last couple of years, you’ve probably seen a hamburger, burger, place called Taylor’s Refresher. Taylor’s used to be called Gott’s Roadside before they sold. This is where the Gott Family made their money, at least over the last few years, and that’s what they’ve been famous for. There’s a couple of different Gott’s.

There’s one that’s kind of classic. It’s the original St. Helena location, as you go up Highway 29 through Napa it sits over there on the left hand side. It got quite a bit of publicity over the years. Robert Parker absolutely adores the place, which I think is kind of where it was brought into the mainstream. Plus, quite honestly as you go up the 29 through Napa there’s not a lot of quick places to eat that are quite good, and Gott’s which I still mistakenly call it most of the time to this day much to my oldest son’s chagrin, is quite, quite good. They do salmon, they do burgers, and the sweet potato fries are about as good they make anywhere. There’s also a location in the city, and they’ve also opened a third one in downtown Napa, kind of over by Copia which is getting brought back from the dead itself. I think that’s an interesting story too that we’ll talk about at a different time.

In any case, Grenache, you know, people who have been a wine of the month club member for a while, they know that I really like the varietal. I think it gives you almost the widest range in between where winemakers if they have a warm vineyard they get this light airy version of the grape. Then if it’s a cool climate vineyard you get this almost dark brooding thing that reminds you more of Syrah and so it’s really something that you can create a really wide range of wines from, and that’s why in places like the Rhone Valley and elsewhere around the world, in Spain especially where it’s [inaudible 00:02:11] you can see a lot of blends based on Grenache, because it gives winemakers a lot of choice and a lot of freedom to kind of create what they want.

Joel Gott Grenache California Back LabelIn any case, so this is a varietal specific Grenache, so that means it has to be over 80% of the varietal, I believe it’s 100. Unfortunately, although Gott I think it’s a great story and I think they’re doing a great service, this is kind of widely distributed at $15 or so per bottle. I think that’s a great service to both the varietal but also to the wider wine industry. There’s not a lot of folks in California willing to fight at that price point, and I wish there was more.

The state of California, at the least the vineyards in our state tend to kind of [hammered 00:02:54] sales. People, when they first start drinking wine, often spend $5 or $10 for a bottle. The next move up price point is usually that $10-$15 range. That’s where there’s not a lot of California stuff. For a generation or two now there’s always been that give back of that Napa’s been so ubiquitous throughout California’s wine and throughout the wine industry that they knew they get people back at some point. That may start to be less true as time goes by.

Napa Valley is certainly on high-end Cabernet for domestic production is still far and away your best bet. Although there are spots in Washington and Red Mountain that are starting to peak its way into the same kind of critics love as Napa gets consistently. The problem is that if you don’t get people buying $20 wines, there are going to be wineries that do a great job if people buy $20 kind of say CabMerlot blend from Washington State and then those wineries are going to be able to sell to me $40 single vineyard Cabernet or single vineyard Merlot and then do they keep these people enjoying the brand and having a relationship with the brand, as opposed to them circling back to buying something from Napa Valley. Gott’s doing a great job there.

I think it’s an issue that I’ve heard winemakers talk about that they wish there was people doing stuff like this and doing it well so that they had consumers that were ready to buy $30 wine or $40 wine from them and were accustomed to the style that they were likely to receive.

Gott’s to be commended. It’s an interesting story. Gott’s and Taylor’s is a great spot to stop if you need a bite to eat. Ferry Building San Francisco, Highway 29 in St. Helena. The St. Helena one, especially if it’s raining, is still a good spot, they have plenty of overhangs.

For me this was just a miss. It reminded me of what Grenache is supposed to be but it was just kind of lacking in depth and kind of anything that’s interesting. Even at $10 or $15 I think we should be able to enjoy what we have and being easy drinking and being un-interesting aren’t necessarily always enough.

Once again, I’m Mark Aselstine, Uncorked Ventures, hope that everybody’s having a nice start to their week.

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