2022 E16 Winery, Carbonic Petite Sirah, Sierra Moon Vineyard, El Dorado County, Sierra Foothills.
The Sierra Foothills are alive with change and especially here at E16, with Adam Smith taking over from founder Robert Jones and bringing a new generation of wines to the region, with an upcoming set of wildly different offerings, including this beautiful Carbonic Maceration whole berry Petite Sirah, which I got to preview recently, along with a brilliant Grenache Blanc and a tasty Rosé of Barbera. Smith, who I believe was at Skinner, has a collection of wines made by the previous winemakers to move through through, and although they are quite delicious, it was his 2022 vintage that really excited me and this one in particular with its dark purple color and almost Cru Beaujolais quaffability and fresh fruit. The vibrant medium bodied palate starts with crushed blueberries, plum, watermelon and Italian cherry fruits, a pop of tangy herbs, liquid lilacs, flinty mineral notes and zesty spices all flowing in the mouth with a ripe and creamy vinous feel. This will be fabulous with warm Summer outdoor meals and BBQs and especially with a slight chill, you just can’t help but taking another sip, such is the fun nature in this re-imagined Petite Sirah.
The E16 Winery, located in Somerset, part of the Fairplay area, is set into a steep slope and naturally cool in the cellar and has what looks like an incredibly inviting setting with a tree lined creek, hillside vines and a shaded terrace. If you’ve followed E16 in recent years, you’ll need not worry about its fortunes, its future looks bright indeed with Smith showing his potential with the estate with these soon to be released gems. In the past the winery seemed focused on non estate, non region grown grapes with a nod to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but is now putting its energy into the local and especially the estate grapes, which is pretty exciting from what I tasted. There’s an interesting set of Rhone, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Viognier and Grenache Blanc and Italian varietals, Barbera, here as well as Petite Sirah, which gives a true taste California innovation. All the vines, on mineral rich soils, are sustainably farmed and carefully hand tended, which takes on a whole meaning in their Baby Rattlesnake parcel and with Smith making the wines, you’ll see an extra degree of handcrafted inspiration, like with this wine. Picked in the cool of night and with the whole bunches getting sealed in the fermenter for a short primary and then fully crushed and allowed to go fully dry, this carbonic Petite Sirah was then bottled early to preserve purity, vitality and juiciness. I am looking forward to following Adam’s efforts here at E16 and I highly recommend getting on their mailing list for the release of his first solo trio of wines!
($N/A) 91 Points, grapelive