By Chris Gill
Although Tor Kenward initially established Tor Kenward Family Wines in 2001 with the intent of producing single vineyard Napa Valley and Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines, eventually his love of Rhone wines influenced him to start making his first Rhone-inspired Rock wines in 2004. Like many classic Rhone wines, the 2007 Hommage Allan Rock is a GSM wine made from Grenache (75 percent) and Syrah (21 percent), but in this instance the “M” is Marsanne (4 percent) instead of the traditional Mourvédre. The use of a white wine grape like Marsanne gives the blend an agreeable mid palate smoothness and highlights the black fruit elements and flowery perfume of its nose—a pleasant contrast to the more aggressive mid palate and earthy funk of Mourvédre.
Tor Kenward and his winemaker Jeff Ames experiment with different blends for Hommage Allan Rock every year, and with the 2007 vintage their goal was to replicate the personality of a fine Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Grenache that they harvested from the Judge Vineyard in Sonoma’s Bennett Valley is not like the typical overripe, fruity California Grenache, providing clove, black pepper, smoke, and boysenberry flavors reminiscent of Domaine du Pegau, although not quite as heavily layered or complex. Right now it’s a very smooth, easy drinking, medium bodied wine that goes exceptionally well with food, particularly lamb, duck, pheasant, or classic French chicken with tarragon recipes, but with a few years of age it should put on more body and weight. Affordable enough to be a daily drinker, this is a great alternative for today’s price-shocked Châteauneuf-du-Pape devotees.
For more information visit Tor Wines