Sta. Rita Hills
Ah, Grenache! The darling grape of so many winemakers, yet so poorly understood by the average consumer. A big cause of that is it’s somewhat uncommon to see bottled as a stand-alone varietal; while it’s often a critical blending grape for bringing vibrancy and aroma in more southern latitudes, it often needs help from other varietals to bring depth. But special vineyards can bring out an ethereal completeness in Grenache, which takes us to John Sebastiano:
A lot of the Grenache world is pretty warm, if not hot. But here on the eastern edge of Sta. Rita Hills this varietal struggles to build sugar with the coastal wind that scours these slopes (so it’s usually the last fruit we harvest). That allows us to develop color and flavor in the grapes while avoiding the high brix ripeness that tends to efface this grape’s subtler charms. Instead we have something with knockout spicy fruit flavor, but with a feel more in tune with Pinot Noir than Syrah–and that’s a great thing.
Still, this site’s Grenache-ness is intense, with an earth-inflected fruity aroma that fills the glass like vapor. Imagine the scents that might greet a bartender muddling mixed berries (heavy on the raspberry) with a hit of kirsch, lavender and allspice—this expands outward, and that juicy berry medley fleshes out a supple, easy-going palate that closes with spicy tannin. It can be paired with most of what you can pair Pinot Noir with but also with things a bit rich for pinot, like pastor or jambalaya. Though all by itself is very nice too!
Blend: 100% Grenache | Alc: 13.5% | Vinification: traditional open top fermentation using 30% whole clusters | Barrel Aging: 15 Months in older French Oak | Total Production: 207 cases
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
“The 2016 Grenache John Sebastiano is gorgeous. Deep and fleshy on the palate, with tremendous varietal character, the 2016 is a real winner. Sweet red cherry, pomegranate, mint and wild flowers all flesh out effortlessly in the glass. Over the last handful of years, John Sebastiano has emerged as one of the top vineyard sites in Santa Barbara. Ojai’s Grenache is one of many wines that show the potential of this large, sprawling ranch.” 2019-2026- AG 93 Points
“Made in a more elegant, lightly textured style, not far from a Pinot Noir, the 2016 Grenache John Sebastiano comes from a site on the eastern side of the Sta. Rita Hills and was brought up in neutral barrels. It’s incredibly floral, with notes of blueberries, black cherries, peppery herbs, and spice, and it hits the palate with medium-bodied richness, an elegant texture, and moderate tannins. It’s going to drink nicely for 4-5 years.” Jeb Dunnuck- 90 Points