2022 Ruseell Joyce, Chenin Blanc, Rodnick Vineyard, Chalone AVA, Monterey County.
This brilliant new and upcoming release from winemaker Russell Joyce of Joyce Vineyards, made under his personal collection label, is pale golden pure Chenin Blanc that is going to be an absolute star of the vintage. With an almost white Burgundy sense of class and depth, even in its youth, this Chenin is an exceptional effort that will impress Chenin fans everywhere. This Brézé like wine seduces the palate in the same way that some of the drier, intense and steely Loire Valley Chenin Blancs do, including those made by legends such as Nicolas Joly, Romain Guiberteau, Clos Rougeard’s Foucault brothers and Thierry Germain, with crisp layering of citrus and stone fruit, vibrant acidity, liquid mineral and chalky notes. This 2022, which starts with a hint of reduction, matchstick and hazelnut, opens slowly to reveal a touch of white flowers, wild herbs, a gorgeous medium bodied and vinous mouth feel with layers of lemon, tangy peach, Bosc pear and quince fruits, along with leesy brioche and an awesome lengthy finish pushed along by that saline rich chalky charm. Joyce did his best to promote clarity and used a minimalist approach to his all organic Rodnick Chenin, barrel fermenting it, bone dry, in all neutral oak, well seasoned barriques, with some baronage and a short sur lie aging, bottling it after about 8 months, to preserve this wine’s purity and vibrancy. The 2022 Rodnick Chenin looks to have a very rewarding, age worthy, life ahead of it, with the potential to get even better, patience looks to the best option here, this 13% natural alcohol wine has the stuffing to go at least a decade or more!

What makes this wine, is the unique terroir and hillside fruit that captures the old world limestone character that you’d find in the Loire, in serious places like Saumur, married with the warmth of California for ripe fruit density and more immediate pleasures, though this one certainly has the energy and structure to age, as is often the case from this region. This Rodnick Vineyard is dirt with a sense of history and place, it is located high up on the east side of the Salinas Valley, somewhere between 1600 to 1900 feet of elevation, facing the Pacific Ocean in the Gabilan Range. There’s just 27 acres of vines which sees a combination of climate influences with what the vineyard owner calls a high desert that gets the refreshing cooling effect of Monterey Bay, creating what we know to be an ideal growing season with a big change in day to night temperatures. But, it’s the soils here that standout and what brought world attention to Chalone, with a combination of chalky limestone and decomposed granite that gives these wines their should, allowing for deep roots and a thrilling minerality that transmits into the finished wines from the Rodnick Farm, with many varietals originally planted by the late Richard Graff, who was the visionary of the Chalone Estate, as seen in this fabulous example of Chenin Blanc from Russel Joyce. Joyce has previously released a few Carmel Valley old vine Chenin(s), which are very solid efforts, but this one takes it to another level. The re-birth of Chenin in California has been riveting to witness, with a stunning array of offerings these days, and this wine joins some of the state’s best modern versions of this grape, I highly recommend keeping an eye for it, though it looks like a future winter release.
($36 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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