2018 Russell Joyce Small Lot Collection, Old Vines Grenache, Besson Vineyard, Central Coast.
The exceptional new and upcoming release from Russell Joyce under his Small Lot Collection label is the fabulous 100% Old Vine Grenache that was fermented and aged in cement tank with a wildly perfumed, deeply hued and carbonic like character, it is a great follow to his incredible Gamay and Chenin Blanc offerings. The Grenache come from the historic Besson Vineyard in the Hecker Pass, a special place that lies just below the Santa Cruz Mountains and in between the San Benito and Santa Clara AVAs, it was planted on its own roots back in around 1910 and has been sustainably dry farmed ever since. This site first came to the wine world’s attention when California icon Randall Grahm used these grapes in his Clos de Gilroy Grenache, and more recently being used by Angela Osborne of Tribute to Grace, the Kiwi who is one of California’s top Grenache producers, as well as Grenache lover Ian Brand and John Locke of Birichino, another label that is making authentic versions of this vineyard, with Joyce joining that elite set with the wonderful 2018 vintage. Joyce’s version is unique in style, going the route of whole cluster, color extraction and the use of concrete in the fermentation, all of which Russell says was to get away from the strawberry and cotton candy notes that Grenache can develop and add savory (stem) excitement to the palate to tame the grape’s fruity nature and also stay away from wood influence, he uses only neutral French oak. All of which he achieved in this savvy Old Vine Grenache, it feels a bit like a Cru Beaujolais meets Gigondas with a medium/full body and while still youthful and bristling with energy it shows a pretty nose and has a pleasing fleshy texture showing dark berry, plum, pomegranate and tangy black cherry fruits along with a burst of carbonic tropical/exotic expression that is contrasted by zippy herbs, lavender/mint, pepper and crushed flowers.
There’s so much more to come here, it is somewhat difficult to give a clear picture yet, but this Old Vine Grenache that comes from vines grown on ancient alluvial deposits really opens up when given extended time in the glass and reveals hints of a great future ahead, this is impressive stuff that is sure to be a huge hit and sell out fast, so be sure to keep an eye out for its release. Russell Joyce who runs his own Joyce Wine Company, one of Monterey’s new stars, with a sublime series of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay has branched out in recent years adding fine dry Chenin Blanc, Riesling and Albarino to his lineup, as well as continuing to make a few Bordeaux style Cabernet Sauvignon(s) from his father’s original home vineyard and from the Massa Estate, an organic vineyard known for quality, long lived wines since the 70’s when it was the old Durney Ranch. Last year, Russell started his Russell Joyce Small Lot Collection to explore exciting vineyards and varietals that were not exactly perfectly fitted to his main lineup, and produced one of the most thrilling examples of California Gamay Noir to date, along with the Old Vine Chenin Blanc, and now he has this Besson Grenache coming along with a second version of Grenache that has 25% Syrah added, which is also outstanding, plus this year he plans a full carbonic Trousseau! Monterey and San Benito counties are on fire right now with a new generation of winemakers and wines that are top notch, and these new Joyce wines are great additions, especially this Old Vine Besson Vineyard Grenache, it is a wine that should evolve over 5 to 10 years majestically, if you are patient rewards will be huge here, though I wouldn’t blame to to open this one earlier with its juicy/crunchy fruit and racy form making it hard to resist as is.
($40 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive