2016 Chesebro, Las Arenas, Rhone Red Blend, Arroyo Seco AVA, Monterey County.
Really coming into its own, the 2016 Las Arenas Grenache/Syrah blend, from Chesebro and their Cedar Lane Vineyard in Arroyo Seco, which is now beginning to reveal its Grenache led profile with dark berries, peppery spice, sweet and sour herbs, as well as plush satiny tannin(s) and very restrained cedary wood notes. With air everything gets rolling even more with floral aromatics, hints of feral gamey/leathery elements from the dose of Syrah here and a richer sense of dark fruits, including plum, Italian cherry and red currant, as well as snappy licorice. In recent years, Chesebro has raised their game and Mark Chesebro, along with his son Will, who’s joining the family business and will be taking more responsibility in the cellar, and the wines are grabbing more national attention, with the 2021 Albarino really impressing the critics and wine press. The current lineup here is full of fun and honest wines with some outstanding deals, like this late release 2016 Las Arenas, which has plenty of old world charm in the mold of a Sablet Cotes du Rhone Villages and or a Vacqueyras.
The Southern Rhone inspired Las Arenas red blend, which in 2016 was 65% Grenache Noir and 35% Syrah from the sandy soils in Cedar Lane Vineyard, which also sees some cool afternoon Ocean breezes and a long growing season allowing for low alcohol and ripe flavors that seem to benefit from 3 to 5 years of bottle age before showing off the true nature of the wine. Mark Chesebro, owner and winemaker, who was a winemaker at Bernardus, is a straight up and no nonsense winemaker, focuses most of his attention on the vines and employs traditional methods in his cellar.The Las Arenas saw 100% de-stemming and small lot fermentations with the Grenache and Syrah done separately with stainless and bin batches with hand punch downs and cool maceration before being aged more than a year in used French oak barrels after which the wine is blended and put into tank to rest for another few months before bottling. The wines are rawly transparent, zero pretense and authentic country style wines, they offer an excellent value and I highly recommend checking out this under the radar winery, in particular I love their Vermentino, the mentioned Albarino and this Las Arenas red.
($27 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive