Grapelive: Wine of the Day April 15, 2017

2015 Sheldon Wines “The Red Hat” Red Field Blend, Napa Valley.
The upcoming release of The Red Hat is a stylish and old world inspired charmer with deep fruit and snappy spice, this concentrated and robust wine is from an inter-planted single vineyard of Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon grown with organic/holistic methods near the Mayacamas range not far from Calistoga. This 2015 The Red Hat from winemakers Dylan & Tobe Sheldon of Sheldon Wines, a tiny micro-winery in Santa Rosa, is a special single barrel wine, which should be released in the late Summer, as they like the tannins to soften and allow time for the fruit to open up, but it certainly is showing wonderfully now with gorgeous detail and an inner intensity of floral perfume, dense black fruits, earthy notes, wild briar/bramble and peppercorns giving this basket pressed California field blend a northern Rhone feel. 2015 was a great vintage, but the fruit set was very low, basically 50% less than normal for this vineyard, and serve hand selection and farming to get the very best from the grapes made for maybe the best yet from this unique wine, and I’m grateful for the chance to preview it, frankly I really enjoyed just drinking this one, it has many layers and facets to admire that take time to unfold in a slow seductive dance on the palate. The Cabernet reveals itself with blackberry, acacia flowers and subtle cassis, while the Petite Sirah adds a thick frame, plummy mouth feel and vibrant black pepper, but the varietal nature kind of takes a backseat to the vineyard/terroir effect, plus the gentle and hands off winemaking and use of neutral oak in this unfined/unfiltered wine. This very dark purple with garnet edges red leads with a sweet floral bouquet and faint earthy spices before a full bodied palate of mentioned blackberry along with tangy currant, concord grape, juicy plum, blueberry and huckleberry fruits as well as that vivid pepper, lavender, camphor, incense, kirsch and minty anise. There’s some tannin here, which makes itself known, but is graceful in it’s framing of this wine and at 13.5% The Red Hat is impressively showy, though refined, elegant even and balanced, again it takes it’s cues from the old world with a natural beauty that really gets the heart racing. With only 24 cases made, this will be wine to get on pre-order as I think it will likely only be available direct from Sheldon Wines, best to get your requests in early, it should age and develop nicely as well, best to hide a few bottles away, though as seriously good as it is now that might prove hard, drink from 2018 to 2024.
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive