If you’re going to encounter wine for the millionth time, let them be artisanal wines hand crafted by James Joyce’s family. Russell Joyce is a direct descendant of the poet, pouring Monterey County and Central Coast wines from the Joyce Vineyards tasting room in Carmel Valley Village that are more tasty than works of art.
Starting the flight with a dry Riesling, they confidently do things a little differently and your taste buds enjoy the change. It has plenty of fruit flavor that feels like sweetness yet very little sugar aftertaste and crisp acidity holding it all together. Two Chardonnays follow, highlighting the difference between stainless steel and oak influence on flavor. The first has plenty of tropical fruit, green banana, and lemon meringue while the second also has plenty of lemon meringue with a slight creamy texture, minerality, and eucalyptus. Comparing these two is such a lively indulgence for your taste buds, you’ll have to treat yourself to the experience. A rose of Grenache has nice crisp acidity but a tiny bit of cream rounds out the watermelon and orange blossoms.
Another treat is a side by side tasting they offer showcasing the differences between two well-crafted Pinot Noirs from different regions: Santa Rita Hills and Monterey County. Not to ruin any surprises but the Santa Rita Hills is closer to wines from Burgundy with lean but mean fruit and earth without the dirt. Fruit and body is far more voluptuous in the Pinot from Monterey County with sexy layers of heady spice, eucalyptus, and earth. Their Syrah is not like any other, probably because of the unique soil and climate in Carmel Valley. It has so many layers of smoke, pepper, plum, blueberry, toasted vanilla and everyone’s favorite, mocha. Finally, the Cabernet Sauvignon is one of a kind. Its luscious dark black cherry, plush plum, and blackberry encourage slight pine and eucalyptus to emerge with many layers of mocha, soft silky tannins, and balanced acidity representing just how much this grape loves San Benito. But you don’t have to go to San Benito or even know where that is for this to be your new fave region for Cabs. Their tasting room is in the lovely Carmel Valley Village walkable to fine good eats and hiking trails.