abacela is ab-fab
2015 Abacela Grenache Rosé ($24) | Umpqua Valley, USA
"Typicity" is a term I've never heard outside the realm of wine. It means "trueness to type" and is vaguely related to the concept of the Platonic ideal. If a wine has typicity, it embodies the essence of its signature grape. A wine expert should be able to identify the grape makeup of a wine with outstanding typicity "blind"—that is, just by tasting it.
Too many rosés these days taste vaguely fruity and flavorful without allowing their varietal flags to fly: "It's crisp, refreshing, melon-y... and I have no idea what it is."
Grenache—whether with the aid of commercial yeasts, divine nature or loving winemaking—is a grape that often makes it past the glass wall of undefined fruitiness and declares its typicity in the rosé format. Perhaps this is related to the fact that in Spain, where it's called Garnacha, this grape often gets the extended maceration time that brings its color nearly even with Rudolph's nose.
At any rate, after writing about a Spanish rosado that tasted like Garnacha but wasn't, I thought I should write up a Garnacha with typicity. And wouldn't you know it... it's not from Spain, but the United States.
Back in 1989, Earl and Hilda Jones—a couple of Ribera del Duero devotées—decided that they must grow Spanish grape varieties on American soil. Thus began a nationwide search for the right spot. Fortunately, Earl's son Greg Jones is the world's foremost expert on vineyard climatology, and he helped out. The Joneses ended up in Oregon's Umpqua Valley, which was a borderline bizarre choice at the time. (Today, the Umpqua Valley is a thriving wine region.)
Their winery, Abacela, has been producing fantastic Iberian-style wines for two decades now, and has garnered worldwide acclaim. Its Grenache rosé, sourced from Abacela’s estate Fault Line Vineyards, is a reliable standby, one of those wines you should automatically grab when you're going to be throwing, say, pork on the grill.
Grenache tends toward high sugar and alcohol levels, but this rosé does not present either. It's completely dry and entirely slurp-able, despite just a touch of alcoholic heat. I love its blue-toned color, refreshing spritz, and saline note.
Now for typicity: It's there, in spades. Strawberry, cherry, and maybe a hint of chile pepper. My only complaint: This wine, so clearly a close relation of the Garnacha rosados of Spain, is imprinted with the French spelling "Grenache." I suppose this is for the benefit of American audiences who might not be familiar with the Spanish spelling, but what gives? This grape, the experts say, originated in Spain, and the Spanish spelling came first.
So this wine is true to type. But I don't find the type to be quite true.
- titratable acidity: 8.0 g/L
- pH: 3.09
- alcohol by volume: 13.1%
- residual sugar: 0 g/L
- drinkability: ⬆ crowd-pleaser
- presentation: ⬆ simple package, gorgeous color
- geek factor: ➡ exotic provenance (Umpqua Valley) appeals