What on earth is a GSM? Often times people think it is the name that someone just put on their bottle, but really is a a blend of Rhòne Wines. GSM’s happen to be one of my favorites. If I have already lost you at GSM, lets start at the basics.
Region- All wines originate from certain regions, for example, we are most familiar with Bordeaux, Burgundy, and of coarse Champagne,(previous post here) France. The Rhòne region is in Southern France, varietals such the Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Grenache, Syrah, and many more are grown there. Just because these varietals are grown in the Rhòne region of France does not mean that is the only area they are grown. The Mourvèdre actually originated in Spain under the name of Monastrell. Most of the varietals in California and other places have been “suitcased“ from these areas and replanted many decades ago. Some changed names as they moved on such as the Shiraz when it went to Australia.
Grenache~ There are approximately 10,000 acres of planted Grenache in the USA. Mostly in California and Washington states. Grenache tends to be lighter in color and body, a little bit fruit forward, I often get licorice or fennel flavors, it seems to handle a higher alcohol level without getting too off balance because of its higher sugar content. This is hard to explain but sometimes when you taste wine and it leaves a bit of the rubbing alcohol feel in the back of your throat and tongue, it is what some call too hot and is off balance. The alcohol is too high for the grape. Watching winemakers create the perfect balance with tannins, acid, alcohol, and sugars is truly fascinating. There is so much science but also their personality and love goes into the wine as well. If you are a Pinot lover and prefer the lighter wines, then Grenache is for you. It pairs well with spicy or roasted foods.
Syrah~ There are approximately 23,000 acres of planted Syrah, again mostly in California and Washington states. Syrah tends to be a bigger wine, it can be rich, tannic, and deep in color. It is common to get hints of vanilla, dark berries, pepper, violet, smoke, or chocolate flavors in a Syrah. Like the Grenache, it can also handle a higher alcohol level than the lighter varietals like a Pinot Noir. If you like Cabernet Sauvignons then the Syrah is for you. It pairs well with steak, ribs, and hamburgers. Softer cheeses 🧀 do well too..
Mourvèdre~ (pronounced moovedrah) There are somewhere over 1,000 acres of this hard to spell varietal, planted in the US. Most of them in California. Mourvèdre tends to be a bigger wine as well, the medium acidity is an art for sure. Mourvèdre is often like violets with a silky mouth feel and the slight floral smell. The silky texture often makes it feel like a lighter wine. It tends to have the dark berry notes a little plum, flower, or I like to compare it to Heliotrope flowers. If you have not smelled one, they are similar to licorice or fennel. Mourvèdre is also super good served a little chilled on a hot summer night when you want a red wine. 🍷 I personally love this wine with any type of a rich buttery mushroom dish. It pairs well with most herbs and cuts through a rich sauce in a way that makes you drink the bottle without even knowing what happened. Mourvèdre is generally a bold wine like the Syrah, however I have had many that were soft and delicate. This is where the winemaker will make a huge difference in the wine. Balancing the higher tannins with the beautiful flavors is an art.
GSM~ As you can see, blending these 3 varietals just makes sense. The GSM can take on any of the flavor profiles of the above wines and can be paired with more foods than I could even list. GSM’s are a little bit addicting and tend to make you start to feel like a wine geek. It is a great place to start when you want to become a wine snob but do not quite know how.
If you want to know a great place to pick up these fabulous wines, Passaggio Wines is selling a 4 pack(sold here). You can have a dinner party with your family or friends blending your own GSM’s. See how your blending skills compare to winemaker Cindy Cosco’s talent.