BEST YET! Exquisite yes! But Esquisto means “schist” in Spanish and references the soil type of Halcon’s remote estate vineyard.
There has been a string of three consecutive stellar vintages in the southern Rhone Valley of France, but I don’t know if there is a recent Cotes du Rhone/Village rouge as compelling as Paul Gordon’s new 2018 Esquisto release from Northern California!!
This is the third dry farmed harvest of Grenache from these ancient schist soils situated at 2500+ feet about 9 miles as the crow flies from Mendocino’s Pacific ocean coastline. “Severe” cool clime viticulture is at play here with harsh weather conditions (wind, fog, rain, intense sunshine) and great diurnal temperature swings (hot days and cold nights). The goal each vintage is to simply achieve adequate fruit ripeness and balance.
The growing season was a very long, stressful, and cool cycle to final harvest on November 1st.. The blend is the same as the 2016 – 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah, all co-fermented. 40% whole clusters were included in the fermentation, and neutral French oak puncheons (500 L) utilized for aging. Unfined and unfiltered. “Baby” Chateauneuf-du Pape! 13.9% alcohol. Extremely floral, Provence-like garrigue, dark raspberry and bramble aromas and palate impressions. Excellent color and fruit concentration. Medium bodied. Integrated fine tannin. A seamless, perfectly balanced blend of deliciousness. Does not need cellaring to enjoy now, but will improve for many years to come. Just 230 cases.
“Arresting raspberry and rosemary aromas lead to lip-smacking, fresh crushed-berry flavors in this medium- to full-bodied wine made with an unusually high 40% of whole clusters. Its moderate tannins and good acidity lift the gorgeous fruit flavors nicely. Best from 2024.” – 95 points, Wine Enthusiast – #28/TOP 100 Cellar Selections 2020 (JG).