Accolades Archive

GSM is a red that's hot

GSM is an unsexy label for what can be a very sexy wine, a blending of three traditionally Rhone-grown varieties — grenache, syrah and mourvedre....

Richard Arrowood of Amapola Creek Vineyards and Winery in Glen Ellen is among those making the switch. A renowned winemaker who cut his teeth and earned his fame making exquisite Sonoma County chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon at Chateau St. Jean and Arrowood Winery, he officially walked away from Arrowood last year to focus full-time on his small-production estate wines at Amapola Creek.

At Amapola, Arrowood produces an estate-grown cabernet, a Monte Rosso old-vine zinfandel, and, in 2007 and 2008, a 100-percent estate syrah. Starting with the 2009 vintage that 100-percent syrah will now be blended with grenache.

“Grenache noir has more aromatics and perfume,” he said. “It's one of my favorite red wines.”

As well as that of his wife and business partner, Alis. Beginning with the 2010 vintage, the blend will officially be called Cuvee Alis. About 100 cases are made.

Arrowood has budded over part of his eight-year-old syrah vines to grenache noir using a Bien Nacido clone, believing the varietal will grow happily on his certified-organic Sonoma Valley vineyard estate that lies just below Monte Rosso.

Arrowood likes to co-ferment his syrah with viognier and continues to do so with his new GS blend. It will be aged 18 months in new and seasoned French oak, then left unfined and unfiltered, attempting for the purest expression of what those grapes can do.

While Arrowood is making extremely hands-on, minuscule-production wines, his syrah at $45 is more affordable than, say, his cabernet, which runs closer to $80. Cuvee Alis should be priced similarly to the syrah...

Virginie Boone

The Press Democrat