2019 Sheldon Wines, Grenache, Luc’s Vineyard, Fountaingrove AVA, Sonoma County.
I had high expectations for Dylan Sheldon’s latest Grenache from Luc’s Vineyard, especially after the showing of the previous vintage and the other offering from this site, all of which were fantastic, including the exotic Graciano was well as the Syrah and the Tempranillo, and this 2019 Grenache far exceeded my anticipated joy with beautiful ripe dimension and sublime balance, it is one of my favorite versions to date. The Luc’s Grenache is a deep ruby/garnet color with hints of magenta and richly flavored with classic varietal sex appeal, it shows fresh black raspberry, briery boysenberry, plum, pomegranate and sweet strawberry fruits, as well as exciting spiciness with a mix of cinnamon, dried lavender and peppercorns as well as some whole cluster pop and a touch of lingering florals and anise. Winemaker Dylan Sheldon of Sheldon Wines, which was founded in 2003, is well studied in Grenache and along with Ian Brand, Angela Osborne of tribute to Grace and Scott Shapley of Flywheel Wines is one of these generation that goes for a lower alcohol style and is in search of natural purity rather than a jammy or heavily extracted style, more like the Garnachas of the Sierra de Gredos, like from Comando G, in Spain instead of Chateauneuf du Pape. Made uses whole bunches and with a spontaneous yeast fermentation, the Luc’s Grenache sees daily punch downs and a cool maceration before a soft pressing and racked to just two well used French barrels where it was rested for just under a year. This is a gorgeous Grenache that thrills the senses in every way and is tremendous value for the pleasure and depth here, it comes in at just 12.9% natural alcohol, but the mouth feel is opulent and sensual, it should age well for the next three to five years too.

The tiny backyard Luc’s Vineyard, where this fabulous Grenache is sourced, is located in the Fountaingrove AVA not far from Healdsburg and the Chalk Hill AVA, is planted on a west-facing hillside on Sonoma volcanics with iron rich and rocky soils. The first attraction to this site for the Sheldon’s was the small parcel of Graciano, which to the best of their knowledge, this is the only Graciano being grown in this part of Sonoma County, and as there are only about 30 acres total in the State, though there is more going in, with its success in Paso Robles, it is as Dylan puts it, a rare creature indeed. But, as a Grenache freak first and foremost, the Grenache vines sealed the deal to take all the fruit from this home vineyard and it has become the Sheldon’s signature site and the source of their best wines, like this stellar Grenache. The Luc’s single acre vineyard, according to Sheldon, is on a bi-lateral cordon trellis and tends to produce around 2.5 tons total, so these wines are wonderfully concentrated and extremely limited. The vineyard, founded by a huge Rioja fan, is split almost equally between between Graciano, Grenache and Tempranillo, all of which are found in Spain’s Rioja region, plus Syrah, it was first planted in 2010, it is all hand tended with holistic practices and has been organically farmed since day one. The latest set of wines at Sheldon are without question some of their best efforts to date, they all show beautiful aromatics, and include some rare and unique gems, including a sparkling red made from Graciano and a dynamite carbonic style Sangiovese, so it is a great time to explore this collection if you haven’t done so yet, but be sure not to miss this Luc’s Grenache. Just 36 cases of the Luc’s Vineyard Grenache are going to be released into the wild, so I recommend being quick and greedy in getting it and it is available direct from the winery through their website.
($38 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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