VARIETAL / VINEYARD: This Southern Rhône-style wine is 79% Grenache, 21% Syrah. The primary component of this blend comes from a 2.9-acre block, planted in 1998 to three selections of Grenache Noir, using bud-wood originally obtained from Tablas Creek and Alban Vineyards. These selections, originally from Châteauneuf-du- Pape, give darker color and better structure than the majority of Grenache planted in California. Over the years we have learned how important crop-thinning is to making compelling, Grenache-based wine. It is the difference between CDP and CDR. The Syrah in this blend comes from Northern Rhône clones 174 and 877, and our Durell clone Syrah, all located on the winery parcel. Our vines are planted on low-vigor rootstock to 4’x 6’ spacing.
VINTAGE: 2018 will certainly go down as one of THE great vintages for our Grenache. Normal winter rainfall was followed by a fairly normal growing season with some normal heat spikes. Cool August/September weather allowed the fruit to develop nice flavors and structure before harvesting on September 28th and 29th. Our aggressive crop-thinning of Grenache and Syrah facilitates fuller-bodied wines with more Rhône-like character.
WINEMAKING: We de-stem the berries and pump them into small open-top tanks for fermentation. After a five-day cold soak, the fermentation began spontaneously with indigenous yeast and lasted a little over two weeks. We have found that lower yields can provide plenty of complexity and structure, which is apparent in this 2018. Our Syrah includes some whole clusters, to enhance floral, spicy aromas. As is done in the Rhône, we blend Syrah for additional depth and structure. The wines are aged in neutral oak to preserve the vineyard character.
STYLE / DESCRIPTION: This 2018 Grenache is a perfect example of what crop-thinning, combined with a great vintage, can do for this variety. Reminiscent of our stunning 2007 Grenache, this vintage is equally dark and concentrated. Intense aromas of pepper, raspberry, cherry, blackberry, tar, licorice, and dried herbs (enough with the descriptors!) are followed by a lush but firmly structured wine, balanced by nice acidity. While expressive and fruity, our 2018 Grenache has a sneaky tannin structure, which will allow it to improve over the next 3 to 5 years. — MJU