2022 Russell Joyce, Gamay Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands.
After trying the Arroyo Seco version recently I was thrilled to try this 2022 SLH Gamay by Russell Joyce of Joyce Vineyards, who is leading the way with this varietal on the central coast and this one shows off his confidence with this Beaujolais grape with a brilliantly pure example with Strawberry, raspberry and Italian cherry fruits, a light dusting of herbs and spice, mineral notes and pretty mixed florals. The light bodied, bright ruby hued and vibrant Santa Lucia Highlands Gamay Noir has a quaffable low alcohol presence in the glass that reminds you of some classic Fleurie wines and the smooth texture gives a pleasing mouth feel, making for an exciting Gamay to enjoy anytime, no patience required. With air, the 2022 Joyce SLH Gamay gets more elegant and lengthy with a extra degree of complexity coming through, while still having plenty of crisp detailing and energy, it should pair nicely with a wide range of dishes, especially with a slight chill. Joyce deserves a lot of credit for raising the Gamay flag locally and you are going to see a bunch more coming from in the future, such is the success this grape is currently enjoying.

The 2022 Santa Lucia Highlands Gamay has crated using traditional Cru Beaujolais methods with a carbonic whole cluster fermentation in tank and then a short term in neutral French oak puncheon before an early bottling to preserve freshness and vitality. Russell Joyce has tinkered with his Gamay fermentations and aging vessels for the last four or five vintages and I think he has really hit the sweet spot with his 2022s, a vintage that allowed for ripe flavors and subtle earthiness to shine through with stems adding a perfect amount of crunchy pop. Gamay is really showing promise in the Santa Lucia Highlands, it does wonderfully well in the granite based soils and the long cool growing season makes for some exciting wines, as witnessed here with Joyce’s latest, as well as the promise shown by the offerings from the Escolle Vineyard, like Caraccioli’s, Ian Brand’s and Samuel Louis Smith’s fine 2021 efforts, which I have already reviewed and wrote about here. This new release from Joyce, which he showed off at the Sun, Wind & Wine SLH tasting event to great applause, is sourced from selected young vine parcels that were recently grafted over, is certainly going to impress Gamay fans and is well worth chasing down.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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