Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Tasty Christmas Eve

So, it would appear that I'd have been fine if the other night's bottle hadn't been #1500. Tonight's bottle and occasion weren't too shabby either. Seeing as how it was Christmas Eve, I decided to open a treat even though Boo could only have a glass before he trundled off to work. My Dad was coming over and I knew he'd be good for a glass - and, even better, I knew he'd want to switch over to beer after that one glass. Thereby, leaving more of this baby for my baby and me.

1501.  2004 Betts & Scholl - The Chronique Grenache (Barossa Valley - Australia)

I haven't had a Betts & Scholl wine before but I recall picking up this bottle because I'd remembered seeing that one of the wine rags had announced that a Betts & Scholl Grenache was one of their choices for iconic Aussie wines.

Betts & Scholl is more of a virtual than a bricks and mortar winery. It is a collaboration between Richard Betts, a Master Sommelier who had set up shop at The Little Nell - an aspirational hotel in Aspen - and art collector Dennis Scholl. It's a virtual boutique wine in that these gents don't have actual vineyards or a winery that they call their own. Rather, they work in tandem with grower/producers. Given time, they were producing limited wines from Australia, California and the Rhône. It is also a collaboration that jumped off the page with its first release of a 2001 vintage Barossa Grenache. That first release was in 2004 and, that year, Betts & Scholl was named 'Best New Winery in the World" by Food & Wine magazine. Not a bad start.

Indeed, the wines being made stem from Betts' own starting point on wine. In an interview with internet wine phenom, GaryVaynerchuk, Betts corrected Vaynerchuk when the latter introduced him as a wine expert. Betts calls himself a wine "enthusiast" rather than an "expert." Betts also said that he and Scholl started out to make wines that they love and would want to drink, rather than simply chase points or make a Cab or whatever the most commercially viable grapes or wines would suggest.

Both Betts and Scholl loved to drink Grenache - extolling it as a bigger version of Pinot Noir - and with The Chronique, they partnered up with an Aussie grower and his old vines Grenache in the Barossa. Despite making their wine with big Barossa fruit, they looked to Châteauneuf for how to make their first Grenache. They wanted to be as non-interventionist as they could be and they looked to bring out the "soft, seductive, sexy" side of Grenache.

The Chronique was a "second riff" on Grenache and we definitely "riffed" on it. Not a wine to be found in the "cheap and cheerful" section of the wine shelf, but we coined it, "Aussie fruit at its best," while toasting the season with it. Unfortunately, there were only 375 cases of it made - which makes it a little surprising that we even found it in our market. Lucky find. I'd say.

It might have been a risky move but I didn't leave a glass behind for Santa - what with his needing to drive all night. I definitely would have been in his good books if I had though.

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