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Wine of the Day

2007 Ampelos Delta Grenache

In celebration of international Grenache day, today’s wine of the day is the 2007 Ampelos Delta. It’s a very attractive, 100% Alban-clone Grenache made by proprietors Peter and Rebecca Work with assistance from their son Don Work, winemaker at Sea Smoke. Though a 2007, the wine is a current release as Ampelos goes for extended barrel and bottle aging with their reds. Ampelos wines are not in general distribution, but are available at the Lompoc tasting room and via their website.

Ampelos is a small, family-owned and operated winery. All of the grapes come from their Ampelos vineyard, located southeast of the intersection of Highway 246 and Mail Rd. in Santa Barbara County’s Sta. Rita Hills AVA. The vineyard lies on a slope facing the Pacific Ocean, roughly 20 miles away. Morning fog and cool ocean breezes, sweeping through two latitudinal valley that converge near Ampelos, keep the vines cool. The vineyards were SIP-certified (sustainable) in 2008 and certified organic and biodynamic in 2009. One-third of the vineyard is planted to Rhone varieties. The balance is devoted to six different clones of Pinot Noir.

As Grenache has gained popularity as a varietal wine in California, I’ve seen three general styles emerge. One is light in color and weight. These wines are delicate and pretty with flavors of fresh strawberry, red cherry and little to no oak influence. At the opposite spectrum are dark, robust Grenache with deeper, blacker flavors, full-body and substantial barrel-derived flavors. Much of this difference comes from the growing area, cool and slow-ripening vs. very warm, as in parts of Paso Robles.

The Ampelos Delta Grenache represents the third style, a happy medium. The growing site is cool (Zone 1), but its western facing provides plenty of sunlight. Full phenolic ripeness can be achieved without high sugar levels. There is richness of fruit, but nuance to the wine overall. I found ripe red cherries, grenadine and sweet spice, but also a frond of fennel. The color is ruby and light enough that you can easily see the stem of the glass when looking down through the wine. In the mouth, the body is a lithe medium-plus. Fresh, juicy fruit and lightly drying tannins balance the alcohol. The finish is well-rounded and pleasingly long. Drink now through 2015. Highly Recommended.

grenache_delta_front2007 Ampelos Grenache “Delta”
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now - 2015
Release Date: February, 2011
Closure: Cork
Production: 70 cases
Retail Price: $35.00

Winemakers: Peter and Rebecca Work
Origin: Ampelos vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills AVA
Vinification: ~4 day cold soak, 1.5 ton open-top fermenters, 80% free run, 20% manual basket press
Aging: 33 months in oak barrels, 33% new French, 17% new Hungarian
Alcohol: 14.8%

Service Recommendations
Decanting: Not required
Temperature: 58º - 64º F
Food Pairings: Seared duck breast (medium-rare) or panzanella salad with roast chicken

The wine above was tasted with the proprietor.

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.