October 3, 2007
The Holy Trinity, A Blessed Wine

Unless they're from Bordeaux, or a Super-Tuscan from Italy, blended proprietary wines usually are approached cautiously by Americans. Wine merchants and sommeliers often say that Americans prefer their wines to be solely or largely varietal - chardonnay, pinot noir, zinfandel and the like.

Thus, most of the wines at yesterday's annual trade tasting sponsored by the wine and spirits distributor Young's Market Company at the Sacramento Hyatt Regency were varietals. As I made my rounds, however, I spotted the latest version of an old friend, a wine with the proprietary name The Holy Trinity, by Grant Burge, a fifth-generation vigneron in Australia's Barossa Valley.

Burge makes all sorts of highly regarded wines, most of them varietals such as riesling, merlot and shiraz. But The Holy Trinity is a blend of grenache, shiraz and mourvedre. Those grapes, however, aren't necessarily the father, the son and the holy spirit, though some wine enthusiasts think they could be. Rather, the wine takes its name from Holy Trinity church at Lyndoch in the southern reaches of Barossa Valley, built in the 1850s by Anglican settlers to resemble the church they left in Wiltshire, England. The church is adjacent to Burge's 50-acre Holy Trinity Vineyard.

As a wine, the 2002 vintage of The Holy Trinity is a wonderfully lithe and lively representative of the rising class of "GSM" wines; that is, wines based on grenache, shiraz and mourvedre, a mix that emulates the sort of blending that goes on in the wine region most closely identified with the grape varieties, France's Rhone Valley. The 2002 The Holy Trinity is 39 percent grenache, 36 percent shiraz, 25 percent mourvedre. The smell suggests rose petals, dried fruits and freshly polished hardwood furniture, while the flavor is floral, fruity and complex, with notes of dried herbs spices. The texture is supple, the finish long. Grenache, shiraz and mourvedre, especially as grown in Australia, can produce dense and weighty wines, but The Holy Trinity is immediately accessible and finely balanced. It isn't too heavy and rich for roasted chicken with a fruity salsa, or too light for rib-eye steak. It comes in at 14.5 percent alcohol and sells for about $34. I'm not sure where the latest vintage can be found in the Sacramento area, though I believe I've seen earlier releases at Corti Brothers and Nugget Markets, and Rod Farley of the wine shop Beyond Napa along Fair Oaks Boulevard indicated he'd be getting in the 2002 before long.

I have a hunch that GSM wines, however resistant the market has been to unfamiliar blended proprietary releases, could accelerate in popularity, especially when they are crafted with as much character as The Hold Trinity. It's a category that warrants exploration.

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