This big-bodied blanc is actually a color mutation of Grenache Noir, sharing the exact same DNA profile, with one big (and obvious) difference: color. Just like Grenache the red, it is mostly headquartered in the southern Rhône valley, where it is a major component of blanc blends. It generally excels in fruitiness, from citrus to pears and melons, but it can be overgenerous both in alcohol and and in body, so the proper farming and terroir, winemaker’s restraint, and yes, sometimes blending with other varieties, are key to making the best of Grenache Blanc.
Front Porch Farm is a thriving farm oasis founded in 2010 by Peter and Mimi Buckley, who set out to grow the best that California can yield; a cornucopia of fruit orchards, flower houses, all manner of heirloom grains and veggies, livestock, vines and on and on. They revived drab vineyards on their hillside property and grafted them over to their favorite Rhône varieties including Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Vermentino, and the lovely Grenache Blanc. Sebastien Pochan joined Peter and Mimi’s inspiring project in 2015 as winemaker. Raised in the Languedoc in southern France, he did his enology training in Montpellier and then moved to Healdsburg, fell in love and went headlong into winemaking at Unti Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley. He brings along his longtime love of the Rhône, and sometimes he also brings along his accordion, as he tends the vineyards and the wines. The vines grow in the easternmost stretch of the Russian River Valley AVA, looking out over the river as it winds around Fitch Mountain in Healdsburg. The rolling hills are full of river cobble and gravelly loam, with fog and river breezes tempering the hot summer days. The Grenache blanc is fermented and aged in concrete tank to enhance that Grenache-y body and texture.
A classic cascade of orchard produce: golden plums, tart green apples, Bosc and asian pears, this wine is as ripe as an autumn breeze but fresh as a citrus blossom. It’s bright and lithe for a Grenache blanc, but it’s also generous; the palate has a rich pear galette dreaminess, complete with a helping of marzipan. The fruits just keep on coming and the acidity draws out the length like the longest evening hours of summer.