2016 Avaler, Grenache/Syrah/Viognier “R Own Cuvee” Sonoma County.
The Avaler label, a collaboration between two friends, Dylan Sheldon of Sheldon Wines and Jon Phillips of Inspiration Vineyards, to make limited lot wines at a great price from Sonoma sites, continues to impress for the quality and the adventurous spirit, especially with their latest “R Own Cuvee” a red Rhone blend with 20% Viognier! This Avaler R Own Cuvee, mostly Syrah and Grenache, was fermented separately, in open top, then pressed to French oak, for about 16 months, using up to just 20% new wood, with the Viognier not co-fermented, but done in stainless and blended in later. It’s dark garnet/purple and juicy with loads of fruit. spice and lift, with exceptional detail, ripe/sweet tannins and a lighter medium body, it reminds me of an easy drinking Zinfandel, but with more Rhone character in the profile, just a little heavier, at 14.2%, than a Pinot Noir and more open/forward, it’s a glorious quaffer. Bursting with red berry/raspberry, a bit of spring flowers, peppercorns and light mineral tones, it is like a Corbieres or a charming Cotes du Rhone Villages, but with a clear California personality, with air the wine picks up a deeper tone with blueberries and black currants along with a strong and heady sense of lavender as well as plum and pomegranate. This is a wine to take to the beach or picnics and BBQ’s it’s a wine that will please a crowd and play nicely with cuisine, it can also be served slightly chilled for warm afternoons and evenings outdoors, drink over the next couple of years.
($25 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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