Florèz Wines, 2019 The Pope’s Smoke, Grenache Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains

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popes smoke grenache

One of the challenges of shooting wine is to get the color in the glass right. It’s difficult with red wine in particular, at least for amateur photographers like us, as they tend to appear darker and more opaque. This wine is actually light in color and very translucent. So although it may look like your prototypical ultra-ripe, over-oaked and boozy grenache, the opposite is true.

This Florèz Wines, 2019 The Pope’s Smoke, Grenache Noir is ridiculously fragrant in the glass, bursting with bright aromas of strawberry which match its luminous red hue and goes down silky smooth with just a touch of tannins. Basically, we couldn’t stop drinking it.

Florez Wines is a Santa Cruz-based winery founded by James Jelk in 2017, who works exclusively with sustainable and organically farmed vineyards, some of which he farms himself. Per an email conversation, he noted that this Grenache comes from a vineyard in Yolo County located in the foothills on the eastern side of the Northern California Coast Ranges. It’s CCOF certified organic and “meticulously tended by Sergio Villanueva,” with Steve Matthiason consulting along the way too.

From Jelk’s winemaking notes: “The wine is produced with two separate ferments: one entirely destemmed and the other entirely whole cluster, with a fairly short maceration (10 days). It’s then sent to neutral oak, sur lie, to rest undisturbed until a single racking pre-bottling. The whole cluster fermentation showed pronounced spice character and tannin, while the destemmed showed notably more fruit and Grenache varietal character. The two were blended for bottling. Unfined & unfiltered with no additives or sulfites used during vinification. 14ppm SO2 added at bottling.”

We purchased this bottle at Gus’s Community Market on Noriega.