2018 Folded Hills Vineyards, Grenache Estate, Whole Cluster, Santa Ynez Valley.
The juicy and fruit filled Whole Cluster and Carbonic Grenache from Folded Hills Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley is bright ruby in color and has nice floral dimension on the nose and its combination of overt red fruits and mixed spice makes it a really tasty wine, very much like a quality Cotes du Rhone with a hint of Cru Beaujolais. While tasting through three of their releases this year I kept coming back to this Grenache, it may not be their most structured or serious offering, but it is certainly wonderfully quaffable and addictively enjoyable. This fun Grenache has supple tannins, ultra smooth on the medium bodied palate with crushed raspberry, strawberry, plum and tangy red currant along with touch of pomegranate and cotton candy, before opening up and adding some light savory notes along with dried herbs, pepper, faint early tones and sticky lavender. I was impressed with the simplicity and delightful nature of this Folded Hills 2018, it drinks so well right now and with its acidity and ripeness go for another 3 to 5 years, though no waiting required. The Folded Hills grapes are grown organically following the biodynamic calendar, employing sustainable, old world practices in the vineyards, which have some natural limestone underneath that helps form the character of the wines. This whole cluster Grenache will play nicely with a wide array of cuisines, but I imagine it would be best with BBQ and or Pizza.

As noted in my earlier reviews, Folded Hills was one of the most pleasant of surprises at the Slow Wine tasting in San Francisco earlier this year and is a quality producer that looks set for success. Established not too many years ago by Andrew and Kim Busch, Folded Hills Vineyards is hand crafting a studied and exciting lineup of wines, leaning heavily on Rhone inspired efforts. The estate grown vines are set on sandy coastal soils in the cooler section of the Santa Ynez Valley, just north of Santa Barbara, where they focus on Grenache, which has proven very successful in this area. The Folded Hills I tasted were fresh and pure with a distinctive lighter touch and with expressive flavors, with their 100% whole cluster and carbonic fermented Grenache and their more serious August Red being my two favorites. These are stylish examples of California Rhones and the Busch’s have an amazing team working for them, both in the vines and in the cellar with Kiwi winemaker Angela Osborne from A Tribute to Grace, using her talents to make these small lot wines, along with Stolpman’s Ruben Solorzano doing his usual magic in the vineyards. Angela, one of best Grenache specialist in California, also does a Grenache based sparkler, a couple of whites, including a Roussanne and a Syrah offering as well, both of which I am curious about. I look forward to tasting more of their wines and visiting the farm in the coming year and I suggest checking Folded Hills out, especially this wine if you can, though I can tell you the 2019, from a stellar vintage might be even better.
($37 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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