2019 A Tribute to Grace, Grenache Noir, Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, Santa Barbara County.
Deeper and more savory than the regular Santa Barbara County bottling, the A Tribute to Grace 2019 Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard is heavenly light ruby in the glass and beautifully balanced with a pretty mix of florals and generous red fruits, along with crunchy spices, umami, a faint loamy earthiness. This wine got better and better with air, opening up a lovely textural layering and filling out to a medium/full palate with strawberry, raspberry, plum and Italian cherry fruits leading the way, along with cinnamon, pepper, anise and crushed lilacs. There’s subtle wood and supple tannins here, but it feels taut and structured, making me think there’s more to come in the following 3 to 5 years and it certainly was better still with food, becoming more hedonistic and sweeter in the fruit, especially with meat dishes. The Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, a sandy high-desert vineyard perched above the Pacific Ocean, in the Sierra Madre Mountains, located 33 miles inland set of granite and clay loam with lots of rocks, is the source of high quality Grenache Noir (Tablas Clone) and was the place where this winery got its start and continues to be a star in the lineup here. A Tribute to Grace, is one of the most distinctive producers of Grenache and have pushed biodynamic methods in the vineyards they use, bringing out a thrill of energy and intensity in the wines.

The incredibly hard to come by Grenache bottlings, by A Tribute to Grace have become quite an obsession for this grape’s fans, as I’ve noted before, making them extremely coveted bottles, are very nuanced examples and are transparent and silky wines. The A Tribute to Grace winery is led by Angela Osborne, a New Zealand born winemaker, who moved to California in 2006 with the dream of making Grenache, has quietly become one of the state’s best producers. The Kiwi has a truly gifted touch, and a fixture in the Santa Barbara area, after exploring northern Spain, southern France, southern Australia. Osborne, who’s label, A Tribute To Grace, was named after two cherished elements of hers, her beloved Grandmother Grace, first and secondly, the intention to capture the essence of grace itself in the wine, which you can definitely taste, and lastly a desire to be closely connected to nature as possible. Osborne, pretty much is all about Grenache with this label, from Rosé, a Grenache Blanc, to multiple 100% Grenache Noir bottlings, like this one, and even a sparkling version, she also has the Land of Saints label for other varietals and blends, both of which I highly recommend. This 2019, made from organic grapes, saw close to 50% whole cluster and native yeast fermentation with a gentle handling to achieve its purity and elegance. The wine, under 300 cases made, was aged in exclusively in neutral wood with close to 11 months in the used French oak, again to allow full transparency and capture the sense of place, which was highly successful here.
($49 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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