Ryan Crane has long been a leading force in the new wave of Washington winemakers, specifically when it comes to Grenache. He’s a high-performing winemaker with a stubborn (in a good way) point of view that translates into a well-defined (and glorious) house style. Today we have three shades of Grenache to put that house style on display
2017 Kerloo Grenache Blanc Blue Mountain Vineyard
A annual star in Kerloo’s spring lineup, this Grenache Blanc is sourced entirely from Blue Mountain Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley. The vineyard, an estate site of Corliss/Tranche, was planted in 2001. 12 acres were planted in 2009 dedicated entirely to Rhone white varieties like Grenache Blanc (and perhaps the first planting of Clairette Blanche in the entire country). Sustainable and low-yield farming at Blue Mountain grows fruit with deep intensity, and its somewhat cooler location in the Walla Walla Valley showcases acidity. A perfect combination for Ryan’s passion for the pure, authentic side of Washington fruit
Aged in a mix of concrete (70%) and neutral French oak (30%), this bottle clocks in at 12.9% alcohol. From the nose to the palate, you can see the role of both concrete and oak, respectively, adding intense minerality while softening the bright, acid-driven palate. The nose surges with lively lemon flesh, pear, thistle, a twist of lime, and a touch of honey. The palate brings forth intense fruit to match the bold acidity, juicy peaches and apples mixed with citrus fruit and salinity. A true spring and summer stunner, well suited for everything from spot prawns to sockeye salmon, manila clams to tumble-grown Blue Pool oysters.
2017 Kerloo Grenache Rose Painted Hills Vineyard
Crafted from two clones planted at Art DenHoed’s Painted Hills Vineyard in the Columbia Valley, Kerloo’s Rosé has become something of a calling card for the winery. It’s an immensely popular wine year after year, largely because Ryan has helped lead the charge for purposeful rosé in Washington.
Painted Hills is named for the intense sun that heats the grapes along its slope—which creates beautiful, concentrated fruit. However, the vineyard’s elevation of 1300 feet provides needed airflow to increase the grapes’ natural acidity. A win-win for rosé. Ryan picks these grapes early (as seen by the 12.1% listed alcohol) and they sit on the skins for a mere 2 hours before being pressed and then fermented in stainless steel. The result is a delicate salmon glass that opens with strawberries, cucumber, watermelon rind, pink grapefruit, and orange blossom. The palate is bright, but showcases a touch of texture from lees ageing, a beguiling combination that still presents mouthwatering and vivacious. This bottle is always Washington rosé at its best– stock up for a summer full of char-grilled chicken legs, home-grown arugula and israeli couscous, and citrus-avocado salads.
2016 Kerloo Grenache Upland Vineyard
We’ve long written about Upland vineyard’s propensity for top-notch Grenache—stories told to us by some of our favorite wineries, like Kerloo, Betz, Idilico, Latta. It wasn’t until earlier this month that team Full Pull actually got to visit Upland on Snipes Mountain and see what all the fuss is about. The striking mountain, planted with over 700 acres of vines, boasts riverbed cobblestones brought up to 1300 feet on an anticline ridge. These stones give finicky Grenache what it loves at an elevation that doesn’t freeze. Driving up the winding dirt roads of the vineyard behind manager Todd Newhouse, it was astonishingly clear why the best of Washington’s winemakers sources grapes from this magical place.
Ryan’s Upland Grenache is fermented 50% whole cluster with native yeasts taken from Snipes Mountain. It was then aged entirely in concrete. I’ve always found that Upland’s grapes help evoke a sense of place—in Ryan’s take, it’s a lavender field and you’re holding fistfulls of crushed bramble berries in the warm sun. Succulent raspberry and blackberry thickets, fields of purple petals, dusty old riverbeds, and flowering bunches of wild sarsaparilla. The palate is lifted with vivid acidity and minerality, winding through all the berry goodness of the nose and plenty of green, savory subtleties on its 14.1% alcohol frame. A touchstone of Kerloo’s house style—and a mighty fine bottle as we move into the season of roadside fruit stands and grilled meats.