GSM Blend Differences California vs France


GSM blends-in California we hardly think of these are the ultimate test of a winemaker, but in France, in some ways blending is still the ultimate calling.  We’ll explore some of the intrinsic differences between GSM blends in France (especially in the Languedoc where there aren’t as many archaic winemaking rules and those on California’s Central Coast, especially Paso Robles).

Video Transcription:

French GSM Front LabelHi guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. I’m going to hold this up so you can see it. So this is Pontificis, but really the winery isn’t the issue here because this is a GSM blend from France and it brought up a couple interesting thoughts for me.

First, of all the kind of wines that we blend together in the wine industry, GSM is really the one thing that means something. That really, truly tells me about something that’s in your glass. And it happens in France, it happens here in California. Really anywhere where Rhone varietals are made, really the height of being a Rhone winemaker is often your GSM blend and how you put it together. So I think there’s a couple things that kind of stand out too.
First, in France, it’s almost always the actual GSM, Grenache is almost always the most important part of the blend. Increasingly in Paso Robles, it’s a GSM blend yes, but it’s almost always based on Syrah. So you get kind of a different style, little bit heavier here in Californian than you do in France. And second, I thought this was interesting because when we talk about the Rhone Valley, this is from Languedoc. And the Languedoc is one of those really unique areas of France where they don’t have as many archaic wine making laws as they do in the rest of the country.
If you were to buy a vineyard in Bordeaux or buy a piece of land in Bordeaux and you say, “I’m going to plant, this is what I want to plant.” In reality, they would tell you exactly what you could plant and how much of it. And Bordeaux is much the same, Champagne much the same. There are a list of approved grapes and you’re not allowed to go off of that list, if you are going to use the name of the village or the name of the region on your wine label.
The Languedoc is one of the few places in France where winemakers can truly experiment. They can experiment with what they put in the ground. They can experiment with how they blend things together, and I think the results kind of speak for themselves. It’s also one of the great ways for France to be able to produce these more entry level, ten to fifteen dollar wines. Which is the fastest growing segment in the wine industry.
So once again, it’s a GSM from France and I don’t necessarily think it’s all together relevant for wine club members because we don’t sell French wine. But I do think it’s always interesting to look and see, how are winemakers choosing to work with grapes in different regions of the world. Especially if it’s the same grapes that are planted. The Languedoc in Paso and Languedoc in much of the central coast is similar enough in climate that I think you can make some conclusions about, if it’s happening there and it hasn’t happened here yet, you can ask yourself why or you can ask yourself why not? But you can likely extrapolate what’s going to happen in the future.
I think one of the things that we’ll see increasingly in the central coast is you’re going to GSM blends, but you’re going to see a wider range of them. Some based on Syrah like there is currently, but more based on Grenache too.
So once again Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures, not a wine club wine but it’s interesting nonetheless, have a good one.

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