Fundamental is Joey Tensley’s range of quality, value wines, intended to’ over-deliver at every level’. He’s a Millwall supporter who fell in love with wine on an early trip to Bordeaux. 30% whole cluster.
Sweet and fresh. There are green notes! Bit short.
Drink 2024 - 2026
Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com (September 2023)
Medium ruby, the 2021 Fundamental Pinot Noir has inviting aromas of cranberry sauce, orange peel, liquorice and loads of amaro-like accents. Medium-bodied, it’s silky and refreshing with a deep core of berry fruit and a long, layered finish. This is a lovely Pinot Noir with a notable quality-to-price ratio!
Drink 2022 - 2027
Erin Brooks, Wine Advocate (December 2022)
The 2021 Pinot Noir, which was just bottled before this tasting, sports a deep ruby hue to go with an upfront, fleshy, fruit-forward style that carries classic Pinot Noir spiced red fruits, some subtle herbal, forest floor notes, a round, expansive mid-palate, and an excellent finish. This brings terrific fruit and texture while showing plenty of classic Pinot Noir character. Drink it over the coming 2-4 years.
These Fundamental Wines are made by Joey Tensley and focus on value. Based on this tasting, I’d say he succeeds admirably.
Drink 2022 - 2026
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (August 2022)
About this WINE
Joey Tensley discovered wine at the age of 12 during a soccer trip to Bordeaux. He started making wine in 1993 at 22 and set up his own Tensley brand in 1998, spending the next 20 years finessing his craft with vintages in Chile, Argentina, Spain, and the Rhône Valley. Joey had already discovered a particular passion for Syrah and had started his own production in Santa Barbara with the mindset to create great quality and affordable wines from Rhône varieties.
He has since extended his range, producing exciting top-quality Syrah from single vineyards with excellent cellaring potential under the Tensley label, as well as brilliant and affordable Rhône blends, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon for drinking now under his Fundamental label.
Joey’s approach is simple: he works with great fruit from the best growers in the Central Coast and is as ‘hands-off’ as possible in the winery with minimum use of oak and sulfur. In 2016, he purchased 16 acres of his only estate vineyard, Colson Canyon, which lies above the all-important fog line, from which he had already been buying grapes to make his flagship cuvée since 2000.
Known as the King of Syrah, Joey Tensley has become renowned for his expertise with this variety, gaining a long list of accolades and high scores from critics such as Robert Parker. Today, he is widely recognized as one of the foremost winemakers in California. His wines reflect his thoughtful, laid-back approach and demonstrate a mineral purity that is quite exceptional for this region, especially at these price points.
Santa Barbara County
At the foot of the Central Coast, just north of Los Angeles, the Santa Barbara County reverberates with its Missionary past, although viticulture as we know didn't arrive here until the 1970s. Now there are 6,000 ha of world class Pinot Noir & Chardonnay.
While fog banks shape the season, together with a notable rainfall deficit between May & November, elevated terraces such as Bien Nacido in the Santa Maria Valley AVA faciliate premium fruit growing. Santa Ynez Valley AVA enjoys similar trait, though cooler still;
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.