GSM offer great wines and value
|"The hotspots for GSM wine production beyond the French Rhone are Australia, California and Washington state." Photo by Wayne Crawford|
Wayne On Wine
By Wayne Crawford
Blending grapes to achieve complexity and well-structured wines is a French tradition, which spread from the Old World to New World with relative ease over the last half century.
Bordeaux wines allow up to six grape varietals. Champagne is most often a blend of three grapes and the exceptional Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines of the Rhone have 22 grape varietals authorized for blending.
Three principal grapes in the Rhone wine blend are grenache, syrah and mourvedre (GSM). Crafted together they achieve remarkable wines at very competitive prices.
The hotspots for GSM wine production beyond the French Rhone are Australia, California and Washington state. Australians grow all three grapes and contribute greatly to the combined name “GSM.” They are complemented by the “Rhone Rangers,” rhonerangers.org/, in the USA, a group committed to growing these grapes. Twelve of these varietals are grown in the USA and are included in GSM wines.
Grenache, a red grape originally from Spain, radiates aromas and tastes that include cherry, black raspberry and strawberry with hints of spice, anise and tobacco with medium acidity.
Syrah is the grape of the northern Rhone—think Hermitage—produces dark fruit flavors of blueberry, plum and black olives with hints of licorice, chocolate and herbs.
The syrah grape is considered one of the darkest full-bodied wines, also with medium acidity.
Mourvedre is a high–tannin grape with flavors of blueberry, blackberry, plum and pepper and floral notes of violets and rose. In Spain, this grape is monastrell.
Blended together these grapes present a delightful range of aromas and flavors that support both drinking now and cellaring to allow the tannins to further soften and enrich the wines complexity.
GSM wines are a prefect pairing for barbecue or any grilled meats, pork, sausage, lamb and veal. The blended wine complements steak, tuna, venison, calves’ liver and wild boar, with mushroom sauce an added benefit.
In our blind tasting for this article, the Big Canoe Wine Group selected two d’Arenberg wines from McLaren Vale, Australia, 35 kilometers south of Adelaide in South Australia as our first- and second-place wines. Established in 1912 d’Arenberg remains a unique family-owned winery.
Considering the recommended wine and food pairing includes lamb, a staple in Australian culinary venues, I investigated what d’Arenberg’s highly rated “d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant” would pair with GSM wines. Its “degustation menus summer 2014-2015” paired the 2009 Bonsai Vine GSM and the 2010 The Ironstone Pressings GSM with “Lamb Shoulder Chimichurri Fleurieu Lollipops” with tomato, avocado and queso de cabra salad and sweet potato.
Chimichurri is a green sauce used for grilled meats and is based on finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano and white or red wine vinegar. Fleurieu is the peninsula south of Adelaide popular with beach lovers and surfers and, apparently, a great spot to enjoy Aussie wine.
As readers look ahead to warmer weather and grilling, consider GSM as a wonderful complement to your entertaining. Challenge your local wine stores to earmark these wines for selection. Knowledgeable wine stores normally maintain a GSM section to showcase these wines.
‘Wines drinking well now’
d'Arenberg 2008 The Stump Jump, South Australia, $11: This wine is 42 percent grenache, 36 percent shiraz and 22 percent mourvedre. On the nose, it exhibits fresh fruit, plums and spice. The palate is soft and balanced with red raspberry and cherry. This is a smooth wine that not only had the best price but also was the first choice in our blind tasting. Best Buy.
d’Arenberg 2005 Cadenzia, Australia, $25: This wine is a blend of grenache, shiraz and mourvedre. Ruby-red in color, it has fresh fruit aromas accented with strawberry and raspberry. Red berry flavors and a smooth mouthfeel on the palate with a lingering finish are noted in this full-bodied wine. Highly Recommended.
Domaine de Fondreche 2010 Nadal, France, $20: The 2010 Cotes du Ventoux Nadal is a blend of 45 percent syrah, 10 percent mourvedre and 45 percent grenache. Dark purple in color, it has aromas of licorice, cassis and plum. This full-bodied wine has a pleasing acidity and tannins with a long finish. Highly Recommended.
Ortis 2004 Prestige Cotes du Rhone Rasteau, France, $18: This wine is 50 percent grenache, 35 percent syrah and 15 percent mourvedre. Deep-red plum in color, it exhibits aromas of raspberry, spices and earth. It is medium-bodied with nice acidity and light tannins. Recommended.
Other GSM wines to consider include: Penfolds Bin 138 2012 GSM, Australia, $28; Torbreck 2012 Cuvee Juveniles, Barossa Valley, Australia, $19; Rolf Binder 2009 Veritas Winery Heinrich, Australia, $19; Edmunds St. John 2012 Rocks & Gravel, Calif.; Carlisle 2012 Three Birds Red, Sonoma County, USA, $35; and Domaine de Cristia 2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France, $37.
‘Drink what you like’
In the next article, I will focus on Malbec red wines from around the world.
Wayne Crawford is a certified specialist of Wine CSW and a member of the Society of Wine Educators, American Wine Society and French Wine Society.