Another outstanding bottle from Etienne Terlinden. Regular readers will know–though I have a soft spot for his day-job Summerland stuff–the Cordon labels are what really pull at my heart-strings. This wine opens soft and easy: quite yummy and, frankly, a bit boring, but with time in the glass develops crazy old-world nuances compelling and delicious. A grippy, tart nose flows from the slightly-garnet body: smeared shrubbery, wet asphalt, sharp cherry and blackberry–all muddled down into tapenade and bright earth. Never had a blend from this producer, no indication of components on the label, but guessing–based on color and texture–the majority Grenache, with the remainder Syrah and maybe a spot of Mourvedre. It’s so perfectly dirty and grimy, while the fruit takes these condolences in stride and bows graciously to them.
Thick and visceral on the tongue, the earthy charm colluding with and complicating the rich berry. The cherry takes on a leathery patina: coarse and tough in its smoothness, the complexity constantly piquing. A tannic body requires chewing, and the acid plays the pepper of American oak to perfection. There’s a bit of chubbiness to it–I’ll be honest–but it smooths everything to glass: the California sunshine barely detracting from the near-perfect Gigondas and CDP spirit built into the bottle. Any wine-programme not glassing this is absolutely foolhardy.
2016 CORDON of SANTA BARBARA ‘Cuvee Rouge 246’ GR/SY/MV 75/20/5 Santa Ynez Valley 14.1