2018 Waxwing Wines, Dry Riesling, Tondre Grapefield, Santa Lucia Highlands.
The latest set of wines by Scott Sisemore at Waxwing Wines is his best yet with his focus on mainly the Santa Cruz Mountains for his Pinots has paid off, especially his Lester and Deerheart offerings that are really good, but I also love his crisply focused Tondre Grapefield Riesling, the 2018 in particular, which is his driest and most interesting version to date and it really feels almost like a blend between an Australian and Austrian styles. This vintage, long and cool, allowed for more complex flavors and texture to develop, while retaining intense acidity and the Waxwing Tondre Riesling sets the saliva glands alight with mouth watering tanginess with a first impression of ripe (fruit density) giving way to the wine’s brisk zestiness with plenty of lime, green apple, bitter melon and canned peach before opening up with paraffin, almond oil, wild herbs, wet stones and verbena notes all coming out here, it all makes for a tasting white wine to enjoy with cured meats, claims and smoked trout. There’s some nice floral aromatics as well as some cool toned minerallity that shines through on this medium bodied Riesling that has just started to evolve with some secondary characteristics beginning to unfold here with a subtle oily creaminess, a touch of fleshy apricot and gun flint that bodes well for many more years of rewarding drinking pleasures.

Sisemore’s winemaking with his Riesling is very traditional with the grapes being whole cluster pressed and getting a full twenty-four hours for the juice to settle, to drop out the more aggressive phenolic extract or green bitterness before the Tondre Riesling is fermented in small upright stainless steel tanks. Scott care monitored the progress until the sugar and acidity were in balance, then he stopped the fermentation, the results speak to the quality in the bottle with just enough residual sugar to add charm without overt sweetness and this vintage’s acidity is well judged. The finished wine only saw about 5 months on the lees before bottling and it easily met the international requirements to be classified as dry with finished natural alcohol of 12.9%, much in line with German trockens. The Tondre Grapefield set on sandy loams, owned by Joe Alarid, added Riesling in 2006, while sadly large parcels of old vine Riesling in the Santa Lucia Highlands were being ripped out, including some beautiful vines at Sleepy Hollow, to make way for more Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In recent years some very tasty wines have been made from SLH Riesling with Russell Joyce, who gets some grapes from Tondre as well, and Morgan Winery, who have their own plots at their organic Double L Ranch Estate, doing excellent examples, so it was no surprise that this Waxwing is such an exciting wine, it should drink nicely for another 3 to 5 years with ease.
($25 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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