Wine Wednesday Review: A Taste of Grgich Hills Estate Winery

I had the pleasure of attending a special tasting at K&L Wine Merchants last month in honor of Hall of Fame Vintner Miljenko “Mike” Grgich’s 90th birthday on April 1st.

Image courtesy of K&L Wine Merchants

I came to know about Mike Grgich when I read “Judgment of Paris” a few years back.  It was a fascinating read.   My wife and I even headed up to Napa one weekend to do our own “Judgment of Paris” tasting when we visited Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, and Chateau Montelena.

Mike’s most celebrated achievement came in 1976 when a Chardonnay he crafted for Chateau Montelena beat the very best wines in France in a now famous blind tasting in Paris. This event that stunned the wine world catapulted the Napa Valley into the front ranks of the leading wine-producing regions of the world.

Mr. Grgich was one of central characters in the book, and his story is a fascinating immigrant’s tale of very humble beginnings to fame and fortune (Check out his full bio here.)

I was keen to do the tasting because I’ve never visited Grgich Hills Estate.  In fact, I’d never tasted one of their wines until I tasted their Zinfandel at 22nd Annual ZAP Festival last January.  It was one of my favorite wines.

My tasting notes on the current releases of Grgich Hills’ Fume Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Plavac Mali a cross between ancestral Zinfandel (known locally in Croatian as Crljenak Kaštelanski) and Dobričić grapes follow:

grgich hill sb

  • 2010 Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc Dry Sauvignon Blanc – USA, California, Napa Valley
    Very pale straw color with aromatic gooseberry, and lemon peel aromas. On the palate, it medium-bodied and dry with medium + acidity, and gooseberry, lemon, and pear flavor. Long finish (A-)

grgich hills chard

  • 2010 Grgich Hills Chardonnay Estate Grown – USA, California, Napa Valley
    Pale straw yellow color with guava, pineapple, and citrus aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied, and dry with medium acidity, and guava, peach flavors with a kiss of spice. Medium finish. (B+)

grgich hills zin

  • 2009 Grgich Hills Zinfandel Estate Grown – USA, California, Napa Valley
    Dark ruby color with cherry, plum and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it’s light/medium-bodied, and balanced with medium acidity, and dark cherry, raspberry, and spiced vanilla flavors. Medium+ finish (A-)

grgich hills cab

  • 2009 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown – USA, California, Napa Valley
    Dark ruby color with aromatic dark fruits, tobacco, and anise aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, balanced and elegant with cassis, blackberry flavors. Medium-long finish. (A-)

grgich hill zin 2

  • 2008 Grgich Hills Zinfandel Plavac – Croatia, Coastal Croatia, Srednja i južna Dalmacija, Pelješac
    Garnet color with closed cherry, anise and a bit of tobacco aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and balanced with medium+ acidity and cherry, strawberry, licorice flavors. Medium-long finish. 15.4% alcohol, Aged 20 months in French oak. 896 cases produced. 100% Plavac Mali (B+)

It was a wonderful tasting that showcased Grgich Hill’s wines which are crafted in the Old World tradition. I heartily recommend you try these wines, which all showed impeccable balance. 

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

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