2017 Joyce Vineyards, Chenin Blanc, Massa Estate, Carmel Valley.
The brilliant and delicious old vine Massa Estate Chenin coming off the old Durney Ranch vineyard, also previously Heller Estate, from own rooted organic vines in Cachagua is a wonderfully crafted wine that maybe one of the best white wines ever from Carmel Valley! This vineyard site is locally historic and the 70’s Durney Cabernets are legendary, and while the Chenin has always been a favorite, Russell Joyce has taken it to the next level, showing the Massa’s potential for this varietal, in fact we should see some other talented winemakers versions in the coming years, so keep your eyes on the look out, but seriously if you are a Chenin lover you want this Joyce, both to drink young and fresh and also to age another 3 to 5 years, it is a rewarding wine which should get even more complex in bottle. Fermented using selected yeasts and raised in neutral French barrels this Chenin has a Loire Valley feel, but more in the Chinon Blanc or Saumur vein, not Vouvray as it has more texture rather than fruitiness, mainly from the elevation at over 1,000 feet, deep roots, well drained sandy loam and lower natural sugar in the must. Pretty floral details, subtle peachy fruit, wet stones and with a rich mouth feel stand out in this Joyce Chenin adding/gaining complexity with willing in the glass, and after tasting a cask sample and three separate fresh of the bottling line bottles, more layers seem to emerge with lemon zest, a touch of unsweetened honey, dried ginger, brioche and steely/mineral notes all coming through. If you are looking for geeky Chenin, this Joyce joins an elite California set that includes Sandlands, Lieu-Dit, Pax and Littorai, to name just a few, and it reminds in a good way of Bernard Baudry’s Chinon Blanc “La Croix Boissée” which is slightly more oak driven. Russell Joyce’s 2017’s are going to surprise a lot of people, they are all looking to be next level wines, of the pre release samples I’ve tried I was left really impressed, especially his upcoming Submarine Canyon Pinot Noir, his all new Escolle Vineyard Chardonnay and this very limited and gorgeous Massa Estate Chenin Blanc, look for them to be released closer to the end of Summer or early Fall.
($36 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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