2016 Halcon Vineyards, Esquisto, Rhone Style Red Blend, Yorkville Highlands.
The final 2016 blend of the Halcon Vineyards thrilling Esquisto was crafted from 70% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah, with about 30% whole-cluster, from estate fruit from Paul Gordon’s extremely high elevation, cool climate vineyard set on fractured shale, mica-schist and quartz-rich rock soils, a rare combination that mimics the Northern Rhone, making for an amazing unique expression and a truly wonderful wine. Winemaker Scott Shapely (Roar) used native yeast, with a few stems and utilized neutral French oak puncheons for the aging, with only 130 cases made of this pure and elegant, 14.2% natural alcohol, Rhone blend that shows a sweet attack, but with a nice savory/spicy tone. The latest Halcon GMS Esquisto grabs your attention with a seductive perfume, spices and earthy tones to go along with racy red fruits and a sexy purple/ruby color in the glass before widening on the medium/full palate with boysenberry, deep black cherry, plum and currant/blueberry fruits along with herbs de provence, crushed violets, pepper, flinty stones, iron/meaty elements, tarragon/minty basil and anise. This youthful and fresh wine gives off lots of energy and firm details, but the tannins are surprisingly supple and satiny, though certainly there and providing a spine for this Rhone style blend, it has the same gorgeous feel and class as wines twice it’s price and it’s high elevation freshness reminds me of the higher hillside style Gigondas. This wine looks set to expand and develop over the next 3 to 5 years in bottle, these new releases from Halcon are all beautiful and thrilling wines, and if their 2015’s put them firmly in the premier league, these 2016’s prove it wasn’t a fluke and it’s a winery to watch, and without a doubt you’ll want to get on their list, especially for their Syrah, Petite Sirah and their set of cool climate Pinots, as well as this one. The Esquisto 2016 really delivers, ripe and expressive, but with a graceful presence in the glass, with pure Grenache character coming through, it just gets better with every sip adding a touch of edgy stems and sweet liqueur making it even more alluring, while there is more to come, there is no penalty to open it young, best from 2019 to 2026.
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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