Happy New Year! Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 1, 2019

2017 Joyce Wine Company, Pinot Noir, Albatross Ridge, Monterey County -photo grapelive

2017 Joyce Wine Company, Pinot Noir, Albatross Ridge Vineyard, Carmel Valley, Monterey County.
These 2017 Joyce wines are something to behold, each a great expression of place and elegance, especially Russell Joyce’s single vineyard series Pinot Noirs, in particular is the recently released Albatross Ridge, with it’s mix of sweet floral notes, mineral essence, dusty stones and ultra pretty feminine charms, which delivers a graceful and delicate performance with a streak of red fruit excitement that reminds me of a great Volnay! When tasted in his lineup together, you’d be forgiven to maybe not notice the beauty in this bottling when compared to the most fruit forward and the more (partial) whole cluster flamboyance of the Gabilan and Tondre, but when tried alone the real presence in this Joyce 2017 Albatross Ridge Pinot comes through and the layers reveal themselves in more complex detail with mind blowing results, I have to admit I was fooled by this wine’s shy personality until I was able to focus on it by itself and measure it’s true sense, tasted twice, it’s an absolutely gorgeous wine of textural pleasure that gets better and better with each sip (as well as time in bottle), and a majestic example of place. The Albatross Ridge Vineyard, owned by the Bowlus family, who have their own Albatross Ridge Wines label, is a unique terroir about 7 miles from the ocean in Carmel Valley, just below and west of Talbott’s famed Diamond-T Vineyard on a breezy hillside strewn with chalky rocks, it’s a special spot for Chardonnay and Pinot with exceptionally low yielding vines that are barley above a ton per acre, giving grapes with a stony transmission of flavors, delicacy, hidden concentration and fine acidity of which makes for classic Burgundy like restraint and finesse, and in a wonderful vintage like 2017 was, winemakers were gifted nature’s gloriousness in the bottle, with Joyce taking the Albatross Ridge Vineyard to new heights, in his own style. I have been thrilled with what I’ve experienced from this vintage and place, with Sam Smith’s (under his Samuel Louis Smith label) 30% whole cluster version also captivating me with it’s own personality, which is more bold, whereas Joyce’s is a slower developing Pinot, making it a longer seduction, but every bit as delicious in the end. Joyce went for 100% de-stemming here and neutral French oak with about 12 months in barrel before bottling to accent the vineyards most purest form and allowing the grapes to showcase a profile of racy red cherries, wild plum and spiced raspberry along with dusty earth, wet chalk and a touch of cinnamon, earl grey, dried vanilla and rosewater in a seamless satiny medium weighted palate that gains heavenly with time in the glass, greatly impressive when allowed to fully open. This is a wine that is beautiful now, but will be much better in a few more years and will like take on a heighten perfume and more expansion in the mouth, decanting really brings out its floral array and pair cuisine brings out a more serious character in this wine that will keep your attention. Youthful, fresh and bright this garnet/ruby hued Pinot glistens like a dark crimson gemstone in the glass, it’s a sleeper now, but will reward those that have patience and I see it having a cult like following soon enough, you don’t want to miss this stuff. As the Monterey region redefines itself with this new generation, it’s wines like this that highlight its best features, its a stunning achievement in understated class, quality and believe in the path less travelled. It is time the world takes notice, this region, marked by the deep cold water of the Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean marine layering, is on fire with thrilling wines!
($45 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive