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I wonder if sometimes I’m the only one who decides to come up with weird wine pairings with life events or astronomical phenomena. Sometimes, though, you have to embrace that weirdness. On the day of the Great American Eclipse of 2017, I decided to park myself on a hillside near Jerome and review my bottle of the 2014 Grenache from Rune, while the sun underwent a dramatic occultation.

(In retrospect, I probably should have done the Petit Sirah because of the label for that wine totally has a sorcerer holding grapes up to the sun, but… hey, everybody makes mistakes, right?  Also, that wine as of my last taste of it still needs to be decanted, and trying to carry a decanter into the wilderness is not easy.  That, and it’s harder to find room for one in photo opportunities on desert hillsides–there isn’t enough flat rocks that are big enough for such an endeavor. Or maybe I’m just a slacker.  I digress.)

2014 Grenache

The 2014 Rune Grenache, and eclipse glasses.

The Wine: The 2014 Grenache from Rune is 100% Grenache, sourced from Pillsbury Vineyard, on the Willcox Bench.  The wine was fermented with specially selected yeasts, and aged in French Oak for about a year. This wine was made by James Callahan. The label of this wine is a continuation of the story depicted on the label of the 2013 vintage of the Rune Grenache, who had a run in with the captain on the Pirate ship depicted on the Chardonnay.  Clearly, this encounter did not go as well as the Captain had hoped:

‘The black flags waving in the sunset mark the reality of the situation. As the galleon nears its demise the sound of cannons echo across an otherwise calm sea. “Overboard!” yells the captain. The precious cargo, jettisoned into the dark sea below, floats idly beside the doomed ship. In that instant, the waylaid crew follows suit.  They wonder if they will ever come home.’

The Nose: The nose of the 2014 Grenache is less spicy than the preceding 2013 vintage, which was full of warm baking spices; instead, the stronger notes are stronger notes of vanilla, sandalwood, and cigar-box to me suggest a stronger influence of oak aging on this wine. (That being said, these cinnamon/baking spice notes are still present, but hidden.) Additional aromas of cherry, raspberry, petrichor, and anise also emerge from the glass.

The Palate:  The 2014 Rune Grenache is a light-bodied red with high acidity. The palate opens with notes of sour cherry, anise, rosemary, vanilla, black pepper, and Willcox dust.  As the wine opens up, additional notes of blood orange, bitter herb, and raspberry emerge.  The finish lasts for 40 seconds, and is filled with notes of blood orange, anise, dust, and roasted pecans.

The Pairing: I want to pair the 2014 Grenache with a cheeseburger, covered in green chilis and jalapenos.  A vegan chili or some fancy macaroni and cheese would also work really well with this wine, I think.  Heavier Indian dishes may also work.

Impressions: I admit, I liked the 2013 Vintage of the Rune Grenache a lot more than this 2014 one. To me, this vintage seemed a little bit less vibrant and less exciting. That being said, it is an excellent introduction to Arizona Grenache as a whole, and may well benefit from some more cellar time. It drinks pretty easy now, but to me it is not the most exciting wine in the Rune lineup currently. (Also: keep in mind, I am not the biggest fan of most Arizona Grenache.)

Personified, the 2014 Grenache reminds me of the main character in the song “Old Admirals,” by Al Stewart– a man, born and raised on the tall ships of the line of the British Navy finds himself living far from the sea, remembering his past days of high adventure, with grandchildren on his knees.  He is telling them a story of a battle he experienced back when he was a mere midshipman.

2014 Grenache

Against the sky…