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 Maria Valley
Located in Santa Barbara County, California, Santa Maria Valley is known for its unique climate, known as the Santa Maria Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area), which significantly influences the winemaking process and the resulting wines.
The climate is typically cool and moderate, strongly influenced by the nearby Pacific Ocean. The region experiences a combination of maritime and inland influences, with foggy mornings, mild days, and cool evenings. This unique climate helps to preserve the natural acidity and delicate flavours of the grapes, making it ideal for producing high-quality wines.
Several grape varieties thrive in the region, with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay being the most prominent. Pinot Noir grapes benefit from the region’s cooler climate, producing wines with complexity, elegance, and bright red fruit flavours. Chardonnay grapes also flourish in the Valley’s climate, producing wines with crisp acidity and balanced flavours.
The Winemakers focus on minimal intervention and sustainable practices, allowing the unique characteristics of the grapes and terroir to shine through in the wines. Many wineries employ traditional winemaking methods, including hand-harvesting the grapes and using open-top fermentation vessels for red wines. Some producers also use oak ageing to add complexity and texture to their wines.
The Santa Maria Valley is home to several notable wineries and vineyards, each contributing to the region’s reputation for producing exceptional wines. One of the most renowned wineries in the area is Au Bon Climat.
Marsanne is the predominant white grape variety grown in the Northern Rhône where it is used to produce white St. Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, and Hermitage. It is a tricky grape to cultivate, being susceptible to diseases and being particularly sensitive to extreme climatic changes - if growing conditions are too cool, then it fails to ripen fully and produces thin, insipid wines, while, if too hot, the resultant wines are blowsy, overblown and out of balance.
In the Northern Rhône it tends to be blended with around 15% Rousanne and produces richly aromatic, nutty wines which age marvellously - the best examples are from Hermitage and particularly from Chapoutier. Increasingly it is being grown in the Southern Rhône and Languedoc Roussillon where it is bottled as a single varietal or blended with Roussanne, Viognier, and sometimes Chardonnay. It is also grown very successfully in Victoria in Australia where some of the world`s oldest Marsanne vines are to be found.