2022 Russell Joyce, Gamay Noir, Arroyo Seco AVA, Monterey County.
Having led the modern Gamay rush in the region, Russell Joyce’s true Gamay Noir offerings take a back seat to none in California and his brand new Arroyo Seco bottling from select sites within the AVA is a delight in the glass with a glowing ruby/magenta hue and true Cru Beaujolais charm with juicy carbonic dark fruits and whole cluster crunch, it is an ultra quaffable that enjoys a slight chill and no pretense drinking. The floral toned and tension filled taut youthful palate shows crushed berries, tart plum, cranberry, strawberry and pomegranate fruits with a nice herbal kick, cinnamon spice, anise and and an old walnut woodiness. A bit lighter framed that the San Benito version and less complex than the upcoming Santa Lucia Highlands bottling, this low alcohol Arroyo Seco Gamay is an eager to please style that will remind enthusiasts of a Juliénas with its stony soiled element, high toned, but fleshy mouth feel and electric vitality. Having taken over the old Ventana Vineyards and winery in Arroyo Seco itself, Joyce has adding some delicious regional wines to the lineup, including this Gamay, along with a Vermentino and even a fizzy Albariño & Sauvignon Blanc Piquette or baby Pet-Nat.

As Russell Joyce admits, what began as a passion project just a years ago has now taken on a life of its own and has made him a leader in Gamay with a new legion of fans from across the world from New York to Norway, which intriguingly almost bought up every bottle from last years vintage that was spoken for by Joyce’s club and mailing list customers. He’s had to bump up production and even plant Gamay himself to meet demand and this first release of Arroyo Gamay has helped prepare to satisfy the onrush of Gamay enthusiasts. Over the last few years now, Joyce has fine tuned his winemaking, settling on traditional Beaujolais methods with the mentioned carbonic maceration, whole cluster fermentation in tank and aging with large neutral puncheon for about 6 months to preserve the freshness. He has experimented with 100% concrete and mixed vessel aging, but has gone the route chosen by some of the finest Cru Beaujolais producers with names like Foillard, Lapierre and Dutraive coming to mind as influences here. There’s a little something for everyone in Joyce’s latest offerings with classic Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to their Gamays, Chenin Blanc, Syrah and Grenache, plus the quickly selling Albarino and Rosé, so it is a good time to re-discover the ever evolving lineup here.
($38 ESt.) 91 Points, grapelive

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