2016 A Tribute to Grace, Grenache, Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, Santa Barbara County.
The 2016 a Tribute to Grace Grenache from the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard is a deeply flavored and dark wine, much more opulent and dense than I expected, it is serous stuff that will remind people of big modern era Chateauneufs with ripe layering of fruits and its impressive mouth feel. Winemaker Angela Osborne, the Kiwi transplant, is making some of the state’s most sought after and desirable Grenache wines, each with individual characteristics from the different vineyards she uses, with this one being one of the biggest and most impactful in the collection and this dark garnet colored 2016 is ripe full-bodied vintage to enjoy over the next 3 to 5 years. The nose is fruity and subtlety floral with some underlying spice and earth all of which echos on the palate and on the aftertaste with a mouth full of red berries, plum sauce, kirsch, fig paste and mocha along with faint traces of cinnamon, pepper and anise. This wine is very evolved and the tannins and acidity are luxurious integrated. making for a lush and smooth expression of Grenache, it’s a wine that is really best with robust cuisine, I can see it going incredibly well with prime rib, lamb kabobs and or a hearty beef strew, and for those that don’t eat meat, best to pair this with hard sheep’s cheeses, mushroom casserole or veggie lasagna. Osborne, as I have mentioned, has made quite a name for herself and is now part of the fabric of this new generation of talent in California that are taking our wines to the next level.

Angela Osborne, the New Zealand born winemaker who moved to California in 2006 to pursue her love of Grenache, first made this wine in 2007, sourcing her first California Grenache from this Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, which is, as she notes, nestled high above the Pacific Ocean and close to 33 miles inland, this high-desert vineyard site provides, in her words, the perfect balance of heat and light for thrilling quality grapes. Osborne named her label after her grandmother Grace, who she says gave her her so much and who she will always pay tribute to through her wines, which she also hopes will show a sense of grace as well, something I think she has done well in her first dozen or so vintages. The Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard is farmed sustainably and planted, as Osborne notes, according to particular site-specificity and set on exposed rock and deep sandy soils, it is a warm terroir that is not unlike Chateauneuf du Pape or the Mediterranean region of Spain and France, particularly good for Grenache, which makes up only a tiny percentage of what is grown here with five different Grenache clones in a small block that Angela gets. For those looking for exceptional new world Grenache, a Tribute to Grace should be on your radar, these are hard to find wines, but well worth the chase, and don’t miss Osborne’s Rosé if you see it, a bit easier to find are the Folded Hills label, which I tasted at the San Francisco Slow Wine tasting last year and reviewed, these are wines she consults for and are excellent as well.
($45 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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