2018 Sheldon Wines, Carignan, Trimble Vineyard, Mendocino County.
The husband and wife team, Tobe and Dylan Sheldon, at Sheldon Wines have been crafting small lots wines under this label since 2003 and were ahead of their time searching for delicacy and lower natural alcohols and were Grenachistas from the start. Over the following years they built an eclectic lineup of wines that now includes some wild and beautiful things, like their sparkling and carbonic Tempranillo(s), Sangiovese, Graciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache Blanc and Vinolocity Blends, usually Grenache focused along with this new Carignan a wine that Tobe has been thinking about for years and finally got done. The 2018 brought the Sheldon’s their best opportunity for old vine Carignan when they discovered the Trimble Vineyard and they just knew they had found something remarkable and it has fulfilled Tobe’s dream to do this grape and do it right, this near perfect vintage gave them excellent material to express the varietal’s best nature with an intense purple/magenta and deep crimson hue and crunchy black and dusty blue fruits. Tobe and Dylan playfully describe this as a dark brooding wine with rustic charms and spicy mischief, all of which is wonderful true, as they employed a semi carbonic approach with this vibrant Carignan, going whole cluster and native yeasts with a cool temperature fermentation to capture the exotic aromatics and keep its lifted vitality, bottling early to hold on to the fresh detail and mineral notes, and as always the aging was in neutral, well used French Barrels. This lovely medium bodied wine is quite zesty and vigorous at first, but quickly softens and lingers on the finish with a touch of lilac and turns almost creamy with air and food, but never loses its natural acidity and translucent quality.
This Sheldon Carignan, comes of vines that were planted in the mid seventies on gravelly loams, which promotes the ripe fruit and supple tannins and are classically dry farmed and all organic, which thankfully is pretty common place for Mendocino. Everything comes together well here and the Sheldon’s allowed the vineyard to shine with the wine certainly showing the concentration and inner energy from the Trimble Vineyard site with layers of blackberry, currant, plum, really tangy huckleberry/cranberry and black cherry fruits along with snappy/minty herb, crushed stones, cinnamon, lavender/sage, pepper and anise. This is really cool stuff, that shows no oak, that reminds me of the wines of Corbieres, like Maxime Magnon and Jean-Marie Rimbert’s in Saint-Chinian, both of which are Carignan based Languedoc wines, as well as offering the purity and California ripe tannins that you find in Pax, Martha Stoumen and Broc’s versions. Carignan, one of Chateauneuf du Pape grapes, found in the Rhone as well as the mentioned Languedoc, is also common on Sardinia and it parts of Spain, as well as Chile, and has been in California probably has long as Zinfandel if not longer and was primary used in historic field blends. The limited release 2018 Sheldon Trimble Carignan, only 36 cases made, is an exciting and expressive effort with a lot of personality and is an easy fruit driven red, ready to quaff bottle with subtle complexity and a touch of savory edginess that is hard to resist, especially good with a slight chill, enjoy as a companion to BBQ and or robust cuisine, drink now and for the next 3 to 5 years.
($36 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive