2017 Folded Hills Vineyards, August Red, Santa Ynez Valley.
One of the surprises and a new find for me at the Slow Wine tasting in San Francisco was Andrew and Kim Busch’s estate grown Folded Hills Vineyards from the Santa Ynez Valley, just north of Santa Barbara, where they focus on Grenache. The selections I tasted were fresh and pure with a lighter touch and with wonderful flavors, with their 100% whole cluster and carbonic Grenache and this August Red being my favorites, these are stylish examples of California Rhones and very exciting, since they are flying way under the radar, but with an amazing team in the vines and in the cellar with Kiwi, A Tribute to Grace, winemaker Angela Osborne using her talents in crafting these small lot wines and Stolpman’s Ruben Solorzano doing his usual magic in the vineyards. The August Red is delightful with racy red fruits leading the way before a darker and richer side comes through with air, much in the same way I find a fine Gigondas does with light earthy notes, spice and delicate floral notes all showing up here as well with layers of boysenberry, strawberry, tangy red beet root, blueberry and kirsch fruits along with shaved cinnamon, peppercorns, lavender and anise. The August Red has a more heighten presence in the glass, a deeper color, from the Syrah and it is that percentage of Syrah that gives an extra sense of textural quality to this excellent wine, in fact I think the Syrah lifts the Grenache and allows it to really take center stage.
Set on 15 planted acres in the coastal mountains, the vineyards at Folded Hills have their own micro-climate which is less wind-exposed than the Santa Rita Hills and not as warm as Ballard Canyon, leading to these vibrant wines that produced in a very natural way with a sense of place and purpose. Ruben farms Folded Hills using organic methods, with everything done in concert with the Ranch going ons, additionally, they prune, plant and harvest according to the lunar calendar to respect the natural rhythms of the vines. Angela, who has made a name for herself by making ultra transparent wines, especially with her favored Grenache, uses indigenous yeasts and is careful to promote a lighter frame with refined tannins, which shows here, the August Red, which is a blend of 67% Grenache and 33% Syrah that comes in at 13.9% natural alcohol. The Busch’s are sitting on a beautiful place and the wines are a thrill, I only only see them getting more and more interesting in the years to come, the clarity of form in the wines, especially the carbonic Grenache and this August show they have a serious commitment and I look forward to seeing what comes next! I will be buying a few of the 2018 whole cluster carbonic Grenache to just quaff about with, it is zesty refreshing and easy to enjoy, while this more impactful August Red will need a matching meal to give its best performance, it should develop nicely over the next 3 to 5 years.
($43 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive