Two Handsome Wines

Two handsome wines—Burgundian but not from Burgundy—keynoted the weekend.


The keynote of the weekend was Burgundy, but the wines were not from France, and only one was made of Pinot Noir. Both hail from California, and exhibit deft winemaking that lets the fruit stand forward against a shimmering scrim of herbs, earth, and metal. Both are highly recommended.

Two Shepherds Vineyards
Grenache, Saralee’s Vineyard
Russian River Valley
13.5% ABV | Price: $35 (media sample) | 60 cases produced

Limpid light red in color, so light it might be a deeply tinted rosé. Wildly aromatic, it offers a heady perfume of beach rose, ripe tomato, sweet pink flowers, almost-mint, and lavender leaf. Light-bodied and finely textured on the palate, it yields notes of bright ripe berry fruit and fresh acidity. Lean and almost steely on the finish, it's a Grenache with its head in California and its feet in Burgundy. It resonates like a struck bell. 

Pence Ranch
Pinot Noir, Estate
Santa Barbara County
14.5% ABV | Price: $30 (media sample) | 620 cases produced

Pale garnet red, the wine is faint and a little dusty at first, emerging slowly. Soon there is earth and iron, almost blood, and now there are resinous herbs, too, with a woodsy sous-bois note below. Austere and chiseled on the palate, it offers flavors of griotte cherry, lean red fruits, and pomegranate. Cooling, serene, and all together, this wine is beautifully integrated, and the finish is long. A gorgeous, Burgundian Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County, absolutely exquisite—and one heck of a deal at $30.

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2 replies on “Two Handsome Wines”
  1. Meg, thank you for the kind words on the Grenache, I am delighted you enjoyed it. It was the first TS release of 100% Grenache, a rarity in Russian River, and a product of one of the most challenging vintages for that AVA in decades, especially for a variety that adores heat.
    As someone who has always respected and followed your palate, I am humbled and pleased by your appreciation.
    Thanks for also highlighting the Pence Ranch, of which I was not familiar, will have to scout out a bottle!

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