First of all there are two Rhones, the northern Rhone Valley and the southern Rhone Valley. In the north there is just one red grape, Syrah, and it is the veritable star of the entire valley. In the southern valley the main grape is Grenache but it has company in the form of Syrah, Mourvedre and a slew of other minor players. For our purposes here, we'll concentrate on the three majors which are shorthanded to GSM. All three are indigenous to the region and exhibit an allelopathy or unity of purpose with the other historic plants of the region. Sage, rosemary, thyme, juniper and lavender are often planted in the vineyards with that influence often finding its way into the makeup of the wine.
Syrah is one of the great wine grapes of the world. It offers big spicy dark (forward) fruit flavors of blueberry and plum complemented by black olive and bacon fat aromas. Firm tannins and structure ensure Syrah will hold fast and improve in the cellar for the long haul.
Grenache is the lightest of the three yet still offers boisterous warm sometimes candied red fruit flavors along with herbs and cinnamon spice, leather and earthiness. It also has a higher alcohol potential than the others.
Mourvedre adds a deep rich dark red color and flavors similar to Syrah. It has floral aromas and a persistent length of flavors adding tannins in the process.
When you read their descriptions it's easy to understand why Grenache is the center of the blend. Syrah adds to the front; Mourvedre, to the finish; and both to the structure and heft of the blend.
Terroir being what it is and allowing for differences in clonal grape varieties, GSM blends in California and other venues around the world may offer entirely different results.
This Thursday at 5pm we'll be tasting some very special red wines at the store. One of them may just be a GSM. Please join us for the event.