2015 Sheldon Wines, Graciano, Luc’s Vineyard, Sonoma County.
The beautifully detailed, lush and fresh fruited basket pressed Sheldon Graciano was hand harvested at 21.8 brix (low sugars) from the tiny Luc’s Vineyard in the Fountaingrove AVA, of Sonoma County, and fermented slowly in ½ ton open top bins, resulting in a 12.% natural alcohol, lighter style red wine with heightened aromatics, a spicy pop and a divine texture. Only three barrels were made of the Luc’s Graciano and as Dylan and Tobe Sheldon like to say, no new oak barrels were harmed in making this lovely wine based on the rare Rioja grape, and interesting enough it turns out Graciano and Trousseau are the same varietal. This obscure grape is found around the world and lately has been more associated with the Jura (Trousseau) version and expressed wonderfully those delicately colored wines, as well as by California wineries like Arnot-Roberts, Combe (Raj Parr & Stolpman), Sandlands and this Sheldon. Graciano, fun fact, is also known as Tintilla and is found in the remote Canary Islands as well as in the Sherry region of Spain too, and transmits terroir to great effect, and regardless of its true origins which remains an exciting mystery, it makes for seductive wine with many cult like followers. In my experience, Graciano/Trousseau is an amazing food wine, going with an array of cuisines, and Sheldon’s is no exception going with picnic/BBQ fare as well as Haute Cuisine offerings like duck breast in deduction sauce.
Dylan Sheldon, winemaker, uses native yeasts and non intervention with low sulphur on his wines and neither fines or filters, preferring to allow each wine to show itself in it’s purist form and this one is no exception with its translucent ruby color in the glass and its silky tannins, you’re be almost forgiven to think of this 2015 Graciano as Pinot Noir like. The vintage gives some extra mouth feel and density with losing any delicacy showing distinct layers of racy cherry, strawberry, wild plum and briar laced raspberry fruits along with hints of exotic spices, red pepper, mountain herbs, gravel and anise. This is a wine that gets more and more intriguing with air and time in the glass, but is also extremely quaffable, especially with a slight chill, very much like Cru Beaujolais and or unoaked (cement fermented) versions of the Rioja Graciano(s). The lingering zest, rose/red flowers and smooth textural quality make this a terrific value and unique wine, don’t miss it. Sheldon purposely held this vintage back before release to give it time to realize its full potential and we are all rewarded, this is fabulous stuff, it has another 3 to 5 years of drinking pleasure ahead of it, at least, and is a stupidly good value!
($27 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive