Joey’s “Fundamental” Central Coast Beauty
No, we didn’t get our math wrong: that’s a flat $17 bucks for a gorgeously ripe Côtes-du-Rhone lookalike from Joey Tensley, one of the top five producers of Rhône-style reds in the country! Credit our years-long relationship with Tensely, the southern California farm boy who’s become a Wine Access celebrity, for this spectacular deal. Robert Parker’s longtime Rhône expert Jeb Dunnuck has lavished praise on Tensley year after year, declaring that a number of his 2016 releases are contenders for wine of the vintage. This “Fundamental” red blend is “loaded with personality, offering zesty blackberry, orange peel, espresso and smoked sage flavors” boasts Dunnuck. Clear out a corner of the cellar for the 2016 Fundamental. Offering luscious primary-fruit and spice for under-$20, it simply doesn’t get any better than this on the Central Coast.
For members who have been collecting Tensley reds over the last nine vintages, you’re well-acquainted with the astounding concentration and high-toned vibrancy of these absolutely hedonistic reds. But you also know that Tensley — as much as any winemaker on the coast — crafts wines that speak to the nuances of each growing season.
We loved his 2010s for their classical structure, showing more like Saint-Joseph than Santa Barbara. The 2011s are keepers and more restrained. The 2012s were dark, juicy, and round. The 2013s, like ‘12, were dark, juicy, yet delineated and well structured. Joey called his 2014s among “the brawniest reds” he’s made. And the 2016s? Think voluptuous body, incredible freshness, and immediate accessibility, making this “Fundamental” blend the perfect go-to bottle any weeknight.
Tensely and his vineyard team played the 2016 vintage perfectly. Any California winemaker will tell you that the defining event of the vintage was a severe heat spike in late September. Those who harvested after had to contend with accumulated sugars and lower acids. Those who picked before were treated to BB-sized berries of exquisite brightness and a suave density guaranteeing excellent cellaring potential.
Combining Syrah with a rich dollop of Petite Sirah, vibrant Mourvèdre, Grenache and Viognier, Tensely delivered up another fabulously hedonistic Rhône lookalike that will drink beautifully on arrival. A lip-smacking under-$20 stunner from one of the Central Coast’s top talents. You do the math.
- Wine Access Wine Team