Adrian Grenier SHFT House Wine 2009
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Adrian Grenier SHFT House Wine 2009

Adrian Grenier has made a name for himself not only for his acting work in the HBO series Entourage, but also, with film producer Peter Glatzer, as the driving force behind SHFT, “…a multi-media platform designed to convey a more sustainable approach to the way we live through video, design, art and culture,” as the website puts it. SHFT has an impressive array of credentials along the sustainability front (the website goes into depth), but of course it is the wine that interests me. I met Adrian at the excellent Café Jean Pierre in Albuquerque to take the SHFT House Wine wine through its paces, and, so as to cut out all suspense, I adored it. Adored it! Look at that: I have broken my own rule and used an exclamation point! Ohh - again.

The basics: the 2009 SHFT House Wine, $24.95, is a Rhône-style blend of 50% Syrah, 27% Grenache, 18% Mourvedre, and 5% Tempranillo (similar to the popular GSM configuration except that it leads with the Syrah rather than the Grenache). The wine is aged in neutral French oak. Production is 600 cases. The appellation is Paso Robles (“pass of the oaks,” in the original Spanish). I could also translate Paso Robles as “give Napa and Sonoma a run for their money.” I need to admit here that when I scanned the specs of this wine, the grape varieties involved, and the Paso Robles connection, I became well-disposed in advance, yet I am disciplined enough to work around that kind of thing. Blind tastings are best, but cannot always be arranged. In the case of Café Jean-Pierre, we would do better to call it a “low-light tasting” (as the photograph on this page can attest). Hence, I cannot honestly relate the color of this wine, as I would prefer, but it does indeed sit well in the glass. I enjoyed the wine with Escalopes de Veau Normande (veal done in apple brandy in a cream sauce with roasted apples).

I usually use the term “balance” at the end of a review, but balance is the salient point of this wine. Civilized and sophisticated. Gentle mouthfeel, with a long and patient finish. A touch of vanilla on the palate. Aromas of sour cherry, forest floor, and blackberry. The low light may prevent me from commenting on color, but clarity the wine has. I seem to be relating this wine backwards, but, scribbled notes aside, that is how I remember it.

Summing up this wine, I want to take it out of the Rhône camp for two basic reasons. One is to give Paso Robles its due as a self-contained appellation. Two is a nod to the Tempranillo. This Spanish mainstay accounts for only 5% of a four-variety blend, but its inclusion rounds out the balance, and that is what I want. The website suggests the ability of this wine to age. I say drink it now, but if you do wait, let it be for that special someone. This proud Paso Robles offering is the kind of wine you share.

Verdict: Civilized

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Paso Robles Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Tempranillo: Brilliant!

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

Adrian Grenier

Adrian Grenier adores his wine.

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