2013SheldonGraciano2013 Sheldon, Graciano, Ripken Vineyard, Lodi California.
The Sheldon’s have found a wonderful niche, making Graciano, and the 2013 edition is maybe the best yet for this Rioja grape. This varietal from Spain can and is used as single varietal wine, labeled as Rioja Crianza and it is a medium dark grape with lots of spice, mineral and floral perfume, it is also known as Tintilla and can be found in Sherry and in the exotic wines of the Canary Islands as well. The Sheldon’s make the best California version I’ve tasted, and for those that search out the geeky stuff like Arnot Roberts Trousseau, you’ll want some of this gorgeous juice. The 2013 Sheldon Graciano was fermented all natural, whole cluster and raised in neutral French barrel, it comes in at 12.5% alcohol, which you might not expect, but knowing Dylan and Tobe Sheldon look for low brix and elegance, as they always have, you end up with a vibrant, fresh and spicy wine with old school charm and grace. The Sheldon’s are a micro-winery, based in Santa Rosa, a must visit tasting room a.k.a The Sippy Lounge, they have now started a fun growler program (like at a craft brewery, but wine) of fill up wines with both red and white on keg, but their signature wines are their superb Grenache Noir and Grenache Blanc from Sonoma, both low alcohol beauties, be sure to check the 2012 and 2013 vintages out, though the wildly appealing Graciano grown on limestone like soils is a very sexy wine and one that sells out quickly, so don’t wait, only 3 or so barrels get produced, luckily the Sheldon’s have found a Sonoma grower with Graciano and look to add to the program starting with the 2014 vintage, which is in it’s own lovely barrel right now. The 2013 Ripken Graciano starts with a mix of sweet and savory lead ins with dried and fresh flowers, minty herbs, chalky stones, umami and hints of bacon bits which set up the palate for vivid strawberry, raspberry, tangy cherry, cranberry and blueberry fruits along with wild plum and a touch of cassis plus warm gravel, fresh acidity, pepper, red tea, cedar and salted European licorice. The tannins are very fine and meld nicely into this balanced lighter to mid weighted wine, it has a juicy feel on the palate and a layered finish, best to enjoy young, drink from 2015 to 2017. This latest set from the Sheldon’s are all hitting their stride and make for glorious post modern drinking, all with alcohol in the 12 to 13% range including their fantastic Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a throwback to the 70’s and 80’s, a tasty retro Cab if you will with wonderful pure fruit, but again, for something extra special, grab this Graciano!
($36 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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