What is Alicante Bouschet?
First this grape has both a red skin and red flesh, known as teinturier. Henri Bouschet, a French botanist, created it when he crossed Grenache with Petit Bouschet in 1866. Alicante Bouschet was planted heavily during prohibition in California and exported to the east coast. The dark and intense skins made it resistant to rot while being transported. The deep dark color allowed the wine to be “cut down” (diluted) without noticing.
The grape is the 12th most planted red grape in France and found mostly in Languedoc, Provence and Cognac regions. In California the grape was and still is popular among home winemakers and grown in Napa, Sonoma, Madera and Calaveras counties. Other areas growing this varietal are Algeria, Israel and central Italy. In Spain, Alicante Bouschet is called Garnacha Tintorera and is intensely black with one of the heaviest viscosity I have experienced. FYI- Alaya Tierra is one of my favorite producers in Spain of this wine.
Gossamer Cellars – The Winery
Gossamer Cellars in Murphys, California is unique in so many wonderful ways. Gossamer’s owners, Gary and Sue Grant are unique in their wine making endeavors. Gary has always wanted to make every wine in the De Long Grape Varietal Table. This unique approach is wide rather than deep, which provides the wine consumer with just about everything to taste and imagine. Just a quick listing of some of the wines he has produced are Torrontes, Nebbiolo, Teroldego, Negroamaro, Alicante, Treixadura, Pinotage, Tannat and the list goes on. Gary subscribes to the saying proudly displayed on the chalkboard in his quaint tasting room “Adventure may hurt you, but monotony will kill you”- Anonymous. I personally appreciate and applaud Gary’s quest in educating and bringing wines to the consumer which would normally be obscure.
The Wine, 2017 Alicante Bouschet
This 2017 Alicante Bouschet is a strong and hearty wine, completely opposite any debutante or wimpy Rose! This is a muscular and gnarly wine only for those completely sold on intense flavors. First on the eyes in the glass, it is literally blackish in color and with a heavy viscosity. On the nose aromas of black cherry and black pepper waft into the sense. In the palate, blackberry, black plum and sweet pipe tobacco are the primary tastes. Secondary flavors of blueberries and smokiness come across. The finish is long with gritty tannins and a dryness. The roof of the mouth and teeth shout out intense tannins and deep colored fruits, reminding you of an old world wine but it is only 5 years old!
Gary gets the grapes from a recent relationship with Dutchman Vineyards located in Ripon (central valley). It is only 4 acres and planted in 2010 and is one remarkable source for these grapes. Gossamer only produced about 100 cases of Alicante Bouschet. Gary kept the 2017 in barrel for 24 months and used 25% new French oak barrels. At $28/bottle this is a fantastic price point in trying an often overlooked, but enjoyable red wine.
The Food and Wine Pairing
This was paired with a meat ravioli and red sauce of mushrooms and garlic. The sauce had a bit of sweet tomato taste and the wine with its acidity and tannins, cut through it perfectly. Accompanying the raviolis were sourdough French bread and a fresh Cesar salad. One great and harmonious meal.
Remember the saying on his chalk board as it constantly rings true “Adventure may hurt you, but monotony will kill you”. Expand your horizons and try this 2017 Alicante Bouschet.