2019 La Marea, Grenache, Central Coast.
I’ve focused quite a bit on these new releases from Ian Brand, but each one deserves this attention, especially this exceptional Grenache value under his La Marea label, coming from his collection of unique and old vine vineyard sites in San Benito and Monterey County, it is what all Grenache lovers want in a wine and then some. The 2019 vintage, which Ian claims was warmer than 2018, but with a nice cut of acidity, makes this version round and satiny on the full bodied palate with loads of juicy crushed red berries, plum, pomegranate and strawberry fruit(s) that is accented by subtle savory and earthy notes, fresh cut flowers, wild herbs, spice and chalky stoniness. The year’s lush and ripe fruited mouth feel is compelling and reminds me of Gigondas, and shows just how good Grenache is getting in California, with Brand being one of the grape’s leading cheerleaders and talents. In recent years we’ve seen some star examples of Grenache in California and not just the nose bleed priceed versions from Sine Qua Non or Saxum, but from producers like Ian Brand here, along with Turley’s Tegan Passalacqua, (Turley Cellars & Sandlands), Angela Osborne, (Tribute to Grace & Folded Hills), Sheldon Wines, Birichino, Randall Grahm, (Language of Yes), Stolpman, Tablas Creek and Whitcraft to name just a few. There’s a lot to admire here and this Grenache will be a great pairing with BBQ and simple country cuisine, it has plenty of flexibility for a wide array of dishes.

The well structured 2019 Grenache, which sees grapes from Chalone’s chalky soils and other sites, including the famous Besson Vineyard, well over 90 years old, that is set on rocky soils influenced by decomposed granite, limestone and sand, all of which give this wine its concentration and tannic back-bone, was fermented mainly in tank using mostly de-stemmed grapes. The wine was matured for a few months in neutral French oak to allow for transparent nuance and varietal purity, which clearly has worked successfully here in this vintage. This La Marea lineup is Ian Brand’s middle tier collection of Spanish inspired wines, mostly known for the fabulous Albariño, as well as this Garnacha style wine. There are some similarities in the La Marea Grenache to the beautifully crafted wines from Spain’s Sierra de Gredos region in the mountains above Madrid, like those of Comando G, Dani Landi and 4 Monos, which are some of my favorite Grenache based wines these days. For more single vineyard distinction, you’ll want to check out Ian Brand’s signature I. Brand & Family wines, which has the 100% Old Vine Besson Grenache as a headliner, along with the Brosseau Vineyard edition from the Chalone AVA, both of which are incredible and individual efforts. I was very impressed with this ruby hued 2019 La Marea Central Coast Grenache, that I think is one of the best wines for the money you can find and after recently tasting the 2014 La Marea Grenache, I believe there is a long and interesting drinking window, I highly recommend this tasty stuff.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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