Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 1, 2020

2019 Sheldon Wines, Syrah, Luc’s Vineyard, Fountaingrove AVA, Sonoma County.
The absolutely delicious 2019 Luc’s Syrah by Dylan and Tobe Sheldon of Sheldon Wines is a dark and juicy version made in a quaffable style with a carbonic fermentation similar to a Cru Beaujolais with supple tannins and spicy tones. Sheldon is mostly known for their stunning collection over the years of Grenache based wines and their fabulous Graciano, which is one of the most unique wines in California, but in recent years they have branched out a little with a Carignan and Sangiovese, plus a sparkling Tempranillo, as well as returning to Grenache Blanc along with their Petite Sirah, this Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon based wines. This small micro winery based in Santa Rosa was founded back in 2003 and like Sandlands, Arnot-Roberts, Broc Cellars and Ian Brand pay tribute to historic California wines and vineyards, but are also influenced by the old world and are looking to craft tiny lots of authentic wines with less adornment and less alcohol. This 2019 Luc’s Vineyard Syrah shows bright black raspberry, blueberry, boysenberry and plum fruits, crushed peppercorns, a touch of anise, earth and sweet floral notes wrapped in a silken mouth feel and a medium/full palate. This Syrah has pure varietal flavors and is a little like Pax’s North Coast version as well as similar to tank raised Northern Rhone stuff, reminding me of Maxime Graillot’s Domaine des Lises, as well as his Equinoxe, which is good company to be in. The Luc’s vineyard is a single southwest facing hillside acre of vines straddling the border between Santa Rosa and Calistoga and planted on very rocky volcanic soils that gives these wines, the Graciano, Grenache, Tempranillo and this Syrah their personality.

Dylan Sheldon’s winemaking on this Syrah, that is due too be released soon, was typically unique, half traditional artisan and half mad scientist employing, as he puts it, whole cluster, with the Syrah coming in at 21.8 brix on October 16th, which was then pitch forked and sealed in a small stainless steel tank to undergo a cold, slow carbonic fermentation for 8 days. That made the lot about half complete, he then drained the juice to a separate tank, and pressed off the skins. The free run and press wine was, as he notes, then co-fermented with pressed Viognier skins for an additional week to add intense floral complexity. Interestingly, in 2019 the Viognier actually came in a bit earlier than usual for the Sheldon’s, so they pressed it, then vacuum packed about 150 pounds of skins into the freezer! So they waited for the Syrah to get ripe for close to two weeks before completing this co fermentation stage. After which the wine was gravity fed to neutral French oak for 3 months as it completed its malo-lactic conversion, then Dylan clean racked the finished Syrah to single a 60 gallon stainless barrel where it spent the next 3 months prior to its bottling. The 2019 Luc’s Syrah finished at 12.7% natural alcohol and with its carbonic character this tasty stuff is great with Summer foods and BBQ’s and can be served with a slight chill to be a refreshing style warm weather red. The latest set of ultra small production wines by the Sheldon’s are some of the best yet from this winery that I’ve followed since they started and especially intriguing is the aromatic and textural quality that they show, these are very beautiful efforts! This 2019 Syrah should be available soon, be sure not to miss it, get on the list here and current lineup of 2018s are great, grab the Grenache(s) and the Graciano too!
($38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive