Friday, July 21, 2017

La Vie Dansante

Jeffrey Fadness has led an interesting life. I'm not going to try to summarize it, he does a way better job than I can. But a couple of years ago he took over the old (and - let's be honest - somewhat dilapidated) Thomas Kruse winery in Gilroy and opened "Blended, a Winemaker's Studio". Since then he's transformed the old barn into a modern winemaking facility and built a new tasting room alongside it.

The space is shared with two other wineries, which I'll write about separately; here I'll focus on his own label, La Vie Dansante. The first vintage was made in 2013, with white grapes sourced from Mendocino and reds from the local Besson Vineyards. Since then the capacity and range has steadily increased; current production is around the 1200 case mark.

Jeff's primary interest in Rhône grapes; in fact his endeavor has its roots in a Santa Clara Valley Syrah from Jason/Stevens, which led to him spending time as an intern there for the 2009 harvest. Almost all the wines are Rhône-style blends, apart from a little Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel sourced from the former Kruse vineyard, now renamed Summers Ranch. The tasting room is open weekends from 12-5PM, and at other times by appointment. The wines are all very reasonably priced at under $30.

2015 Overture, Santa Clara Valley
This is Jeff's salute to Tablas Creek, one of the primary advocates of Rhône varieties in California, and the reason why so many of the more obscure varieties are now grown in California. A blend of Rousanne, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul, there's an interesting soy component to the nose. On the palate there's rich stone fruit, smooth oak and some light acidity. Very nice.

2016 Rosé of Mourvèdre, Santa Clara Valley
A refreshingly crisp rose, with nice color and tart cherry flavors.

2014 Grenache Noir, Central Coast
Grenache from Monterey County is complimented by a hint of local Syrah adding a little extra depth. Lots of strawberry fruit on both the nose and palate; nice acidity with a hint of oak.

2014 Prelude, Central Coast 
The Prelude is a full-on Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre blend with a light, floral nose that's still remarkably easy drinking

2013 Rehearsal, Santa Clara Valley
An outstanding blend of old vine Syrah and Carignane from Besson Vineyard. It's dense and spicy with a soy component; there's plenty of structure that suggests it'll be even better in a couple of years.

It's great to see new wineries opening up in the area and shifting the focus away from the traditional Bordeaux and Chardonnay. The valley's climate seems very well suited to Rhône varieties, particularly the whites, and I can't wait to see what else Jeff has in store.

La Vie Dansante
3200 Dryden Avenue, Gilroy, CA 95020
(408) 852-0779