2018 Sheldon Wines, Grenache, Ceja Farms, Sonoma Valley.
The 2018 vintage at Sheldon welcomed back the Ceja Farms Vineyard back to their lineup, as winemaker Dylan Sheldon put it, it was like a return of an old friend, with this tiny 2 acre Grenache planting on the southern and western edge of the Sonoma Valley where the cool Gap breezes make for fresh delicate wines, right up Dylan’s alley with heighten aromatics and tangy focus. This vintage, of which only one and half barrels (36 cases) were made is a stylish lighter focus version of this grape, more like the Sierra de Gredos wines that are all the rage, like those Garnachas of Daniel Landi, Comando G, 4 Monos and Alfredo Maesto or in California, more in the vein of A Tribute to Grace by Angela Osborne and or Ian Brand to name a select few. Dylan’s Grenache obsession began early and has been his main varietal since starting his own label with his wife Tobe back in 2003, and before that when his discovered, somewhat ironically, a lighter version of Grenache from Turkey Flats in Australia’s Barossa Valley and when on his honeymoon he made wine for a harvest with Louis Barruol at the famed Chateau de Saint Cosme, the legendary Gigondas producer. To say Sheldon is a Grenache freak is understatement, though his does a try collection of other wines too including his Graciano, the rare other Rioja grape, plus Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, an old vine field blend mainly of Petite Sirah as well as a fabulous Sangiovese and even a sparkling Tempranillo! In 2018 Dylan did two Grenache wines, this one from Ceja Farms and a Fountaingrove AVA Luc’s Vineyard, both of which are in the more restrained and delicate style, though this one is a few shades lighter and more delicate on the medium bodied palate.
Grenache, in California, is very much the in thing these days and it ranges in style from the massive and full throttle Saxum and ultra cult bottlings from Manfred Krankl at Sine Qua Non to the more nuanced or lighter wines of the mentioned A Tribute to Grace, McPrice Meyers, Birichino and Ian Brand, plus the famous Bonny Doon versions by the original Rhone Ranger Randall Grahm, who has said to me that Grenache is what California Pinot lovers really should be drinking! Sheldon’s latest Ceja Farms is wonderfully expressive with lovely aromatics and it is a wine that rushes at you with a red floral array on the nose as well as fresh crushed raspberry, plum, pomegranate, sweet strawberry and candied cherry fruits coming into vivid focus on the medium bodied palate along with a light dusting of spices and shrub/herbs, plus Turkish delights confectionery or Jolly Rancher, lavender and anise. Sheldon really brought the density of fruit out here, but kept everything vibrant and bright without any heaviness, it like the other beautiful offerings from this vintage in their lineup really excels in the glass and struts its stuff with pride and is very well balanced. The winemaking in this Grenache was as per normal at Sheldon with native fermentation, usually with a good portion of whole bunches, set of by the spent lees from an earlier fermentation and aged in neutral French oak, with a basket pressing. Sheldon, as always, notes that no new oak was harmed in the making of this wine. I can see the influenced of all the wines Sheldon has made and all the wines he admires in this one, it is one of his best to date! This Ceja Farms absolutely and with some flamboyance performs impeccably and with loads of stylish personality, it will get your attention and seduce you, enjoy it with a rustic meal and lots of laughter!
($36 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive