2021 Sheldon Wines, Proof of Concept, ~Tension & Release~ Red Wine, California.
The artist label Proof of Concept is a wildly delicious and unique red blend, made from 36% Graciano, 24% old vine Petite Sirah, 24% Sangiovese and 16% Syrah coming from two main sites that winemaker Dylan Sheldon has been working with over the last decade. Interestingly, though this is the first time he’s combined these tiny vineyard sites in Sonoma & Napa to make a wine, and it all came together beautifully with a lively dark fruited, floral and spicy profile. Quaffable and smooth, it plays on the lighter framed medium bodied palate with a nice balance between all the varietal elements on display with Bing cherry, wild plum, red currant, crushed brambly raspberry and strawberry fruits, as well as cigar box, minty herbs, wilted rose, cinnamon/pepper spice, cedar and anise. Remarkably, there’s depth here than you’d first think in a wine that comes in a 12.3% natural alcohol and the Sheldon Proof of Concept has a nice rotation of savory and fruit characteristics, along with a hidden sense of tannin giving the wine a delicate frame work. As it opens up in the glass, this pretty garnet and magenta edged Graciano, a lesser known Rioja grape, based wine rounds out and adds a blue fruit quality, staying engaging from start to finish. The latest releases at Sheldon Wines, which are mostly sourced from the Luc’s Vineyard in Sonoma County are easy to love, fresh and amusing efforts that I highly recommend, especially this Proof of Concept California red and the pure Grenache, which I recently reviewed here.
Sheldon Wines’ winemaker Dylan Sheldon says he’s been toying with this concept for nearly a decade, and Ii’s haunted the corners of his mind as an absurdly playful abstract notion. Continuing he explains that historically, each stand alone varietal represented a song in the larger playlist of the Sheldon line-up. Or so he thought. Dylan who is also a musician finds it easier to equate his wines with that influence, adds that upon closer inspection, that each varietal was a single instrument playing a solo piece in the greater song here in his Proof of Concept ~ Tension & Release ~ red wine. So this 2021 vintage allowed let them, sourced from vines in the Fountaingrove AVA and Calistoga, all play together. The sum of the parts, he felt, was greater than the individual pieces, and that is as he puts it, indeed a ‘proof of concept’ in action. Sheldon, who started his label with his wife Tobe, back in 2003 with his first releases, so it’s been 20 magical years in the books now and I have been lucky to have been following them since they started. Dylan’s wines have always been low alcohol and crafted with raw transparency in mind, he ferments his reds with native yeasts and whole cluster, depending on the year and varietal, with gentle macerations and using only used, well seasoned barrels for aging. He famously says, no new wood was harmed here in the making of his wines, and this wine is the better for it. Again I think it’s great time to discover or re-discover Sheldon’s wines, which are all small batch and reasonably priced efforts, and get on their micro-winery’s mailing list.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive