Lively, Precise, and Mineral-Driven Chenin Blanc

Today’s Story: Enfield Wine Co.

Enfield Wine Co. is a relatively small family-owned and operated winery established by John Lockwood and Amy Seese in 2010. John started working in the wine industry in 2004 at Heron Lake Vineyard, followed by harvests at Littorai, Bodega Melipal in Argentina, and Failla Wines. John remained with Failla for five years managing and farming their Sonoma Coast and Russian River estate vineyards, ultimately starting Enfield as a small passion project. In 2013, John left Failla and devoted his time entirely to Enfield.

Enfield focuses primarily on terroir as a starting point, working with small independent growers across a range of regions to source their fruit. John and Amy purchase fruit from Antle Vineyard and Brosseau Vineyard in the Chalone AVA, Haynes Vineyard in Coombsville, Heron Lake Vineyard in Wild Horse Valley, Jesus & Patricia’s Vineyard in Fort Ross-Seaview, and Shake Ridge Vineyard in Amador County. From these sites they acquire a range of varieties including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tempranillo amongst others, all with varying vine age as well. John’s philosophy is to harvest his fruit for balance and ferment the wines naturally in order to showcase each unique terroir, eschewing a heavy-handed winemaking style. The wines are often fresh, lively, and mineral-driven, though John does enjoy exploring esoteric bottlings as well.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Jurassic Park Vineyard Chenin Blanc

100% Chenin Blanc; 12% ABV

The 2019 Jurassic Park Vineyard Chenin Blanc is pale gold in color. Given some time to blossom in the glass, the aromas are of pronounced intensity and the nose showcases notes of ripe yellow apple, pear, lemon zest, honeysuckle, ginger, flint, oyster shell, and saline. Meanwhile the flavors are of medium (+) intensity, and the palate displays notes of nectarine, white peach, yellow apple, honey, chamomile, crushed stone, and sea salt. This dry white is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, and a long finish. A very precise and well-balanced Chenin Blanc.

Price: $35. I think this is well-priced for how balanced, complex, and intense the wine is. Nothing sticks out of place here and this is a very solid representation of Chenin Blanc. Though it’s more expensive than the previous Jurassic Park Chenin Blanc I had, the intensity and quality level of this wine justify it.

Everyday Drinking Syrah

Today’s Story: The Paring

I previously wrote about The Paring when I reviewed their 2015 Red Blend, but I wanted to revisit the brand for the Syrah today.

The Paring is like a “little sister” to Jonata and The Hilt, both wineries I wrote about previously, and is produced from blocks that are either too young or not stylistically aligned with its big sisters. As I mentioned in previous posts, Jonata and The Hilt are sister wineries of Screaming Eagle through a shared owner in Stan Kroenke who also owns the LA Rams and other sporting teams. Jonata excels with Rhône and Bordeaux varieties while The Hilt commands Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, providing the basis for the Paring portfolio which includes a Bordeaux Blend, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Rosé of Pinot Noir. Fruit for The Paring is sourced primarily from the Ballard Canyon, Sta. Rita Hills, and Santa Maria Valley regions of Santa Barbara, and the winery also shares its skilled winemaker Matt Dees with Jonata and The Hilt.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Syrah

100% Syrah; 14.4% ABV

The 2017 Syrah is opaque deep purple in color with heavy staining on the glass. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of blackberry compote, blueberry, plum, sweet tobacco, wet gravel, baking spice, and oak. On the palate, I get notes of blueberry pie, candied black plum, black raspberry, underbrush, charred earth, slate, asphalt, and oak. This wine is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, grippy high tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $25. This is a classic California Syrah built for everyday drinking, and I think the price is perfectly fit for it. While certainly young and drinking more like a people-pleaser’s Syrah today, this would go great with food.

Utterly Complex Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Franc

Today’s Story: Jonata

I previously wrote about Jonata twice, first in Why Wait for Screaming Eagle? when I reviewed the 2005 El Corazón de Jonata and then in Santa Ynez Sangiovese when I reviewed the 2010 Tierra.

Long story short, if you haven’t read these prior posts, Jonata is owned by Stan Kroenke who also owns the LA Rams and Screaming Eagle. Kroenke bought 586 acres of property, though only 84 acres are planted under vine, and like many wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley Jonata found success planting Rhône varietals such as Syrah but also grows Sangiovese and Bordeaux varietals. For more I’d steer you to my prior posts, particularly “Why Wait for Screaming Eagle?”.

Today’s Wine: 2006 El Alma de Jonata

95% Cabernet Franc, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Merlot; 14.9% ABV

The 2006 El Alma de Jonata is opaque deep ruby in color. This needs some time in the decanter to fully blossom, but once it does the nose showcases aromas of blueberry, black raspberry, black cherry, cassis, black licorice, cedar, tobacco, graphite, chocolate, mild herbs, and a hint of vanilla. On the palate, this gorgeous wine offers notes of blackberry, blueberry, plum, violet and rose, cigar box, pencil shavings, wet rock, scorched earth, blood, and exotic spice. This wine is full-bodied with high acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long finish. Utterly complex and constantly evolving in the glass, this Cabernet Franc is drinking beautifully now but has the structure to go another 7-10 years at least. 426 cases produced.

Price: $155 library release direct from winery. Jonata is producing arguably the best wines from the Santa Ynez Valley and for their complexity and rarity the price demonstrates that. Pair this with grilled steak, peppered chicken, or lamb.

Santa Ynez Sangiovese

Today’s Story: Jonata

Short and sweet again today, as I wrote about Jonata and a different wine in my post Why Wait for Screaming Eagle? back on October 16.

Long story short, if you haven’t read my prior post, Jonata is owned by Stan Kroenke who also owns the LA Rams and Screaming Eagle. Kroenke bought 586 acres of property, though only 84 acres are planted under vine, and like many wineries in the area Jonata found success planting Rhône varietals such as Syrah but also grows Sangiovese and Bordeaux varietals. For more I’d steer you to my prior post.

Today’s Wine: 2010 Tierra

95% Sangiovese, 5% Syrah; 14.9% ABV

This Sangiovese is medium to deep ruby in color. Once this opened up in the decanter, I got aromas of blackberry, blueberry, redcurrant, mocha, smoked game, leather, and black tea leaf. In the mouth, the wine showcases notes of black cherry, blackcurrant, anise, charred earth, smoke, dark chocolate, and espresso. Overall this doesn’t have as much red fruit as I imagined it might, with the wine drinking very dark. This is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long, inky finish with notes of ground coffee.

Price: $90. I’d love to see this closer to the $75 mark, but I do believe it is fairly priced given its rarity, library release status from the winery, and quality. Pair this with roasted game, a rare steak, or pasta with a beef and tomato sauce.