2020 Stars & Dust, Red Table Wine, Tierra Alta Vineyard, Santa Barbara County.
The dark ruby/magenta all Grenache Stars & Dust Red Table Wine is a single vineyard wine with loads of fresh pop and a quaffable personality, it is a wine that is more serious and aromatic that you first think, gaining complexity, spice and savory tones with every pleasing sip with brandied cherries, cranberry, juicy plum and crushed raspberry fruits, dried lavender, anise, cola bean, earthy elements, bright stem (peppery) bitterness and tangy pomegranate. This is delightful and medium bodied low alcohol Grenache that is very much a Cotes du California effort, no pretense, but absolutely delicious, perfumed and great with a wide range of foods. I am loving all the releases so far from the new Stars & Dust label, which started just a few years ago and best known for some stunning Rosé offerings, one made from 100% Mourvedre, which is incredible and Bandol like, plus a sublime Grenache based version, coming from the same Tierra Alta Vineyard where Stars & Dust got the grapes for this nice effort. Owner Nikki Pallesen has created a very tidy collection of small lot wines, most being four barrel each, like this one that saw just 80 cases being made. The more I sip on this Grenache, the more I want, and I can’t wait for Pallesen’s up coming 2021 Rosés, they are sure to be even better, since the vintage was more intense with great acidity, which will make for exciting wines, especially in the style she is looking to make.

Stars & Dust was founded by Nikki Pallesen, ex Liquid Farm, in 2020, focusing on small production, Santa Barbara County wines, featuring what she calls mineral driven Rosés, Single Vineyard Old Vine Chardonnays and now a few fun Reds, like this one. This wine, a Winter release, came as a bit of a surprise, but a very welcome one, even though I had been eagerly waiting Nikki’s set of Chardonnays, which I was also lucky enough to grab at the same time, coming from Old Vine sites they do look like special offerings, and I’ll review them soon. The Red Table Wine, 100% handpicked Grenache, was picked a bit early for freshness and comes in at just 12.4% natural alcohol, but to add a bit of refinement it was aged for 10 months in 100% neutral barrel, used French oak. This was made to be an enjoyable lighter style red, with a bit of Beaujolais like crisp stony character, and Nikki says that a friend playfully nicknamed it “Grenjolais” and I can see why, it is also good with a slight chill on a warm day. The Los Olivos District AVA, which was recently formed in 2016, is in the Santa Ynez Valley, mostly formed from an area between the Santa Ynez River, between the Purisima Hills above Solvang and set on on a broad alluvial terrace plain with well drained soils with gravel, Orcutt sandy terraces, clay loams and the locally unique complex of Positas-Ballard-Santa Ynez alluvial deposits. The climate here is heavily influenced by maritime conditions and a long growing season with some warm Summer days helping ripen the Grenache at the Tierra Alta Vineyard. If you are looking for a Summer red, you would be advised to grab some of this stuff and get on the Stars & Dust mailing list to get the Rosés!
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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