The 2014 Tenet is a Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blend from Tenet Wines. Tenet Wines is an international collaboration to restore Syrah’s popularity and prestige. Once esteemed, Syrah fell out of favor in the 1990s. Tenet Wines crafts three wines: a Washington Syrah, a French Syrah and a Washington Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blend (GSM) – the Tenet.
Washington Syrah, due to being grown in the sand over basalt and latitude can be much more like old world wine than new world wine. Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Head Winemaker Bob Bertheau met award winning French winemaker Michel Gassier and French enology consultant Philippe Cambie during the amazing the 2012 Washington wine grape harvest. Both Gassier and Cambie agreed that the Columbia Valley AVA, especially the cooler vineyard sites, had the greatest potential in the USA to grow Rhône varietals with elegance, balance and a sense of terroir.
They share the strong belief (or “tenet”) that Syrah and its Rhône brethren can thrive in the Columbia Valley.
Philippe Cambie brought his Rhône Valley techniques for managing vine canopy and grape cluster size to some of the oldest Columbia Valley vineyard for their Washington wines. The grapes are hand harvested then transferred to Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Estate. There the grapes are meticulously sorted. Some are fermented as whole clusters, including the stems! Stems during fermentation adds earthy and savory aromas and flavors to the wine. Some grapes also go through extended maceration for additional complexity. Minimal use of new oak and storing the wine in large containers with minimal disturbance also helps protect the fruit. Winemakers Bob Bertheau, Michel Gassier and Philippe Cambie, work together in true collaboration, utilizing their decades of wine experience, to create a blend highlighting the beauty of these Rhône style wines.
2014 Tenet Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blend
The 2014 Tenet is a 43% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 22% Mourvèdre blend. This Washington Southern Rhône style wine poured a deep inky purple from the bottle, much darker than I would have expected from a Grenache majority blend. I am guessing this maybe a factor of the extended maceration? In the glass, the wine lightened slightly to a rosy violet color.
The aromas of the Tenet included boozy blueberry, blackberry, cherry, sage and a hint of clove. The taste was fruit but not the jammy fruit that you may equate with Syrah. The Tenet offers you crisp and elegant blackberry and juicy pomegranate flavors, like you might find on a fine brunch platter not a syrup pitcher. I also got a hint of thyme on my palate on this pleasantly mouth coating wine. When I heard about Tenet wine being fermented on stems, I was concerned that the tannins would be overpowering. Aging most of the wine in neutral oak or in large puncheons seems to have prevented that as has the Tenet has medium tannins. However, on the mouth, it does taste a bit hot and the Tenet clocks in at 15.5 ABV. That was my one disappointment with the Tenet, as I personally prefer a lower alcohol content in my wines.
I opened this Washington wine about four hours before dinner, to add a bit to a marinade. I am very glad that I did. It still tasted a little tight. I preferred the Tenet the next day, when I poured myself a glass to enjoy while I wrote this post. The 2014 Tenet wine could benefit from laying down for awhile.
Food Pairing Ideas for Tenet Wine
Basic Food-Wine Pairing Rules exist but they don’t always work. For example, I used some of the Tenet in my meat marinade which usually will help your pairing. The plums I added to the marinade were sweeter than the Tenet which breaks another cardinal Food-Wine Pairing Rule. Hence, our skirt steak and Tenet pairing = FAIL
Pomegranate Glazed Squash with Roasted Chestnuts + Tenet Wine = Success. The earthiness of the Kabocha Squash, tanginess of the pomegranate molasses and subdued sweetness of chestnuts was a wonderful match to the complexity of the Tenet. The fresh pomegranate seeds enhanced the pomegranate flavors of the wine.
Mushroom Risotto (w/coconut aminos) + Tenet Wine = Success. The creaminess of the risotto was a nice foil to the tannins in the Tenet while the mushrooms enhanced the slight earthiness. The coconut aminos did add the expected depth and complemented the complexity of Tenet.