I’ve had a handful of Malibu wines over the years–mostly at restaurants in Malibu and Santa Monica–but the Los Angeles County AVA also incorporates Antelope Valley, high in the desert on the other side of I5: east of where the Grapevine winds down in to the basin. The only reason I know of Antelope Valley is because of Willow Springs–where I raced cars for many years. From an armchair-quarterback perspective, I would guess wines from this arid landscape at 3000 feet would have similarities to northern Arizona wines, and tasting this bottle reflects a couple parallels, but charges a different direction in terms of elegance and stuffing.
This is a GSM, but WAIT! The M is Merlot here. Fairly light in the glass–translucent ruby with slight gilding transparent throughout. Big smoky oak greets the nose, settling densely in and around chubby ripe black cherry laden with black licorice and dark chocolate with a sultry streak of warm spice, rich vanilla and caramelized maple syrup. Rich and decadent, approaching near-dessert proportions.
Tasting it packs all-of-the-above onto the tongue, glycerine-y texture announces ripeness alongside a dollop of heat. Feeling fairly hi-pH, but a zing of acid plays nicely with the peppery notes. Not quite as rambunctious in the mouth as the luxurious bouquet would suggest, here the berry is cut with watery refreshment, allowing plentiful earthy briar and citrus minerality to shine. Coffee, tobacco, and cacao grind at svelte caramel, and everywhere: rubenesque blackberry smolders with California sunshine.
An interesting wine, with complexity akin to super-extracted Pinots produced by equally-blingy Napa cab houses. The Grenache is surely to thank for this, and if you’re into out-sized wines charmingly blockbuster on release with a good chunk of funky flair but ridiculously polished, check these out.
2018 BYRON BLATTY WINES GR/SY/ME 70/20/10 Los Angeles Co. California 15.4