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Grenache Strawberry Jam, not only the name of one of the most complete and visceral albums from Animal Collective but a tasting note found in one of the finest Californian Grenaches I had the pleasure of evaluating with my Tuesday tasting group.

The subject was Garnacha—oddly enough, after the reveal, no Spanish wines were found—and the 2010 Amor Fati Grenache emerged as a clear-cut winner.

Among Gigondas and Cannanau di Sardegna, my favorite wine of the night was born a few hours north, in Santa Maria Valley. The noticeable difference in color–medium ruby—had me intrigued from the start. The bouquet had a medium-plus intensity showing strawberry jam and lightly crushed raspberries—lavender, black pepper, leather and dried flowers. An effeminate perfume translated to a clean and exciting wine with medium body, medium-plus alcohol (pleasantly warm), medium-plus acidity and medium tannins (fine grained on the gums) that exploded with a medium-plus flavor intensity of a red fruit core balanced by dried herbs, flowers and cracked pepper.

Relative to the other Grenache of the night, once it was revealed we were stunned to find that this was a domestic expression. It was tense yet balanced, showing a lot of restraint from the winemaker’s hand while wringing out the most of an incredibly attractive red wine that was suitable for aging. A bit outside of our stated price range but well worth it—I would strongly recommend finding this bottle of Amor Fati Grenache.

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