Wed 4 May 2011
The name of the Grant Eddie winery derives from partners Grant Ramey and Edward Schulten. The winery is located in Oregon House, North Yuba in the Sierra Foothills, where Ramey is vineyard manager for Renaissance Vineyard and Winery. Like Renaissance, Grant Eddie turns out small quantities of carefully-made wines that focus on the needs of the grapes instead of on the egos of the winemakers or the strictures of heavy-handed oak. The 12 acres of organic estate vineyards lie at over 1,900-feet elevation. Natural yeast is utilized; alcohol levels are sensible in an age when cabernet sauvignon wines routinely attain 15 percent abv (alcohol by volume).
I recently tasted Grant Eddie’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from 2006, and while the cabernet is well-made the syrah is superb. I also have a bottle of the Grant Eddie Port 2009, but I’m saving that for a bit. These wines were samples for review.
The Grant Eddie Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Ramey Mountain Vineyard, Sierra Foothills, is a model of the marriage of power and elegance. Deeply earthy and minerally — in the granite/graphite mode — it offers classic notes of black currants and plums, cedar and tobacco, lavender and potpourri. It’s grand in proportion but not grandiose, being suave, sleek, supple, smooth and polished though bolstered by fairly dense chewy tannins and pinpoint acidity. A few minutes in the glass lend the wine expansive dimension while adding to the spicy intensity of its black fruit flavors. What’s not to like? Nothing really, but I felt in the end that the wine, for all its virtues, was more correct than compelling. Or am I being nit-picky because I tasted this wine after the exciting syrah? I mean, it really is good. 13.8 percent alcohol. 125 cases. Excellent. About $28.
Truly compelling and rich in detail, the Grant Eddie Syrah 2006, Whitman’s Mountain Vineyard, Sierra Foothills, delivers everything we want of the purity and intensity of the syrah grape, especially when it takes the manner of France’s Northern Rhone Valley as exemplar. Spiced and macerated blackberries, black currants and blueberries are wreathed with piquant notes of black pepper and black olive, dusty thyme and rosemary and touches of fruitcake and plum pudding. That fruit grows more meaty, fleshy and smoky in bouquet and flavor as the moments pass — and with the grape’s signature trace of wet fur — and the wine gains depths of clean, earthy slate-like minerality and the essential resonance of vibrant acidity. The wine deftly balances the juicy appeal of its black and blue fruit flavors with a honed astringent edge that speaks of its spare, burnished tannic character. Here’s a syrah that touches on every necessary point without being hot and sweet with high alcohol or obvious and heavily extracted or stupid with oak, common flaws in California. Drink now through 2015 to ’17. Alcohol content is 14.1 percent. 150 cases. Exceptional. About $27.