2014 Tofanelli Family Vineyard, Grenache, Napa Valley.
Vincent Tofanelli, known for his Zin and Charbono grown on his estate vineyard also does a great Grenache and this 2014 is packed with dense fruit and layered with rich detail, though still shaded by the barrel influence it shows huge potential and it reminds me somewhat of Ridge’s Lytton Grenache. Tofanelli’s reputation goes back quite a ways, but his grapes found their way into the famed Turley Cellars wines in the nineties and suddenly their were legions of fans for the rare Charbono and Zinfandel from the Tofanelli Vineyard. The Tofanelli Family Vineyard is near the town of Casitoga in the warmer north valley, the estate mostly as mentioned known for Zin also grows a tiny amount of Semillon, Sauvignon Musqué, Petite Sirah, Charbono, Mondeuse Noir and Cinsault and this Grenache Noir from some old and gnarled vines hearken back to another era.
Tofanelli, who’s hands are featured on the Orin Swift Papillon label, is an old school grower using methods that were once prevalent throughout the Napa Valley including farming with no irrigation, as the winey says, not even a drip line to be seen, and with an organic philosophy, they never use pesticides and never have, completely committed to the nature of the place. Guided by his Italian roots and heritage, Tofanelli says his goal as winemaker is to bring a little restraint to the ‘table’ – to give you wines that not only taste good now but will complement your meals and age gracefully, a while he captures highly concentrated and ripe Napa flavors in his wines he is influenced by the old world, even though this youthful Grenache is deep and very fruit forward, but not overly so.
The 2014 Tofanelli Grenache, of which there was only 85 cases made, was grown on Bale Series gravelly loam, with head trained vines and all from estate grapes was 80% Grenache, 10% Estate Petite Sirah/Peloursin, 8% Charbono, 1.5% Estate Mondeuse Noir and about 0.5% Cinsault in the final blend and was close to 50% whole cluster with a 4 day cold soak and was punched down twice a day until it was racked into 100% used French barrels for 18 months before bottling. I would have thought it had a small percentage of new oak from its profile, though as noted its depth, density and richness is still in a baby fat stage and I imagine it growing into a beauty given proper cellaring, though Zin fans will find it compelling now and there’s a lot to love here as it is.
This opulent Grenache based (California/Rhone hybrid style) red, which came in at 14.6% natural alcohol, shows a dark garnet/crimson hue in the glass and the full bodied palate delivers raspberry jam, plum, strawberry, sweet black cherry and pomegranate fruit, black licorice, cedar, mocha and a mix of spices along with light floral tones, backed earth and lingering cassis. If you can’t wait, like me, it is best to have this Tofanelli Grenache with robust cuisine, hard cheeses and or BBQ, and I look forward to re-visiting this one in about 5 or so years.
($40 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive