2019 Sandlands Vineyards, Grenache, Besson Vineyard, Santa Clara County.
The 2019 Grenache Besson Vineyard by Sandlands, made by Tegan Passalacqua, who is Turley’s head winemaker and vineyard manager, is bright fruited and aromatic with a medium body and feels a bit lighter and fresher than the prior vintage, but just is as delicious. Just 4 barrels were produced by Sandlands, coming from over a hundred years old vines planted in 1910 on the Besson Vineyard’s loamy deposits, which is influenced by the Uvas Creek. Passalacqua describes this 2019 as having crystalline cherry, dried flowers, plum flavors, which I easily found as well, along with raspberry, pomegranate and a hint of jolly ranger, along with lavender, anise and a dusting of spices. At just 13.4% natural alcohol, this Besson Grenache is an inviting vivid ruby magenta in the glass, it is supple and ripe, making it easy and quaffable in a very appealing style. This year’s version drinks with the elegance of a Pinot Noir and will go nicely with a variety of cuisines, it is more delightful than powerful, very much in the theme of Passalacqua’s effort to craft wines that reflect California’s history and not show any pretense. There’s a sense of youthful juiciness that makes this wine ready as is, but I can see it aging nicely for another 3 to 5 years, though no patience is required to enjoy this well made Grenache.

The historic Besson Vineyard, set in Santa Clara County, is owned and farmed by third generation farmer George Besson Jr, was first planted to the Mission grape in the 1800s, with its its Grenache, planted on its own roots, going in around 1910, and it is this varietal that gets the most attention here. It has been the source of some outstanding wines, with this Grenache vineyard transmitting pure transparent flavors and is a unique terroir, as it does in Tegan Passalacqua’s Sandlands version. Most of this vineyard, which is organic, is set on gravelly soils with clay and loam and is only a stones throw from the border with the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA and sees a nice cooling influence from the Pacific and gets some marine layer fog at night early mornings. In recent times it has had lovingly maintained vines with a focus on quality fruit and natural methods has been sustainably dry farmed ever since it was originally planted. This site, as I have noted in prior reviews of this and other wines from this vineyard, first came to the wine world’s attention when California icon Randall Grahm used these grapes in his Clos de Gilroy Grenache. The Sandlands wines are made with old school techniques using native yeasts and whole clusters with a very handmade approach and the wines see aging in, well seasoned, used barrels, again to promote clarity and a raw charm, as this fine Grenache shows. While pleasing on its own, this Grenache should be paired with food to show off its depth of character, going great with pork dishes and or meaty or mushroom pasta as well.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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