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Big Basin Vineyards ‘Gabilan Mountains GMS’ Monterey Co., California 2019

  • $38.00

Selling fast  - 1 left


The Gabilan Mountains are a sizable range of rugged granitic and calcareous limestone-rich mountains that run down the East side of the Salinas Valley, in Monterey County. The Rhone varietals tend to be their most complex, interesting, and revealing their true character potential and vineyard terroir when planted on steep, rocky hillsides. The region is hardly hospitable to any crop other than low-yielding, character-rich wine grapes

  • Winemaker: Bradley Brown
  • Farming: Biodynamic
  • Variety: 39% Mourvedré, plus Grenache and Syrah. 
  • Terroir: Maritime influence from Monterey Bay, granitic and limestone vineyards. The vineyards highlighted starting with the old vine Mourvèdre from organic Rodnick Farm Vineyard at 1600ft within view of the Pinnacles National Park. The second vineyard is Coastview Vineyard perched at 2200 feet looking over Monterey Bay with decomposed granite, hillside terraces, and amazing Syrah and Grenache. 
  • Vinification: 100% whole cluster fermentation.Aging: Syrah aged in a 240-gallon concrete tank, and Syrah and Mourvèdre aged in larger neutral barrels.
  • Tasting Note: Aromatics are jumping out of the glass: raspberry, strawberry, rhubarb, berry pie, and crushed rocks on the nose. Intense, velvety, and with a powerful mid-palate and abundant extract of tongue-smacking berry fruit.
  • Scores: 95pts, Vinous

From our 2024 Explorer Club Bottle Cult Release:

Big Basin Vineyards ‘Gabilan Mountains GMS’ Monterey County, CA 2019
The Gabilan Mountains cover an area along the east side of the Salinas Valley in Monterey County, where the eponymous gabilán sparrowhawks have historically been spotted. The classic Southern Rhône varieties Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre (aka GSM) exhibit their best when planted on steep, rocky, low-yielding hillsides, making these slopes the ideal terroir to create amazing GSM blends.
Big Basin Vineyards is situated on a former homestead of French farmers who planted vineyards here in the early 1900s. By the latter half of the 20th century, the farm fell into total neglect. Bradley Brown, the founder of Big Basin Vineyards, recognized the site's potential for growing extraordinary grapes. In 1998, he purchased the farm and spent the next five years restoring it to its former glory. With deep respect for its history, the main winery building was constructed in the style of the original structure and on the original site, now equipped with modern conveniences to focus on sustainable winemaking practices.
Bradley’s goal is to create “New World” wines with an “Old World” soul, wines that reveal the complex nuances of his vineyards. It shows— when I stuck my nose into the glass, my first thought was, "This wine smells like France!" The GSM trio is hard to miss, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d guess this lush wine came straight from the Rhône Valley!
This wine is more of an MGS, as old-vine Mourvèdre is the star here, with Grenache and Syrah in supporting roles. This 2019 is one of only a handful of recent vintages in which Mourvèdre is the dominant grape in the blend. The Grenache was aged in 240-gallon concrete tanks, while the Mourvèdre and Syrah were aged in larger neutral barrels. Dried, tart cherries, mixed berry compote, deep black fruits, baking spices, granite, and a hint of forest cedar flood the palate. It is both meaty and light on its feet. It gains more aromatic complexity the longer it opens up in the glass, allowing the Monterey-ness of the wine to shine through. A rugged yet elegant minerality gives a distinct sense that this wine is au naturel. Indeed, this is an organic, minimal-intervention wine that expresses the true characteristics of the vineyards where it was born.
With the continued onslaught of bone-chilling rain across the Bay, I would not hesitate to pop this open on any weeknight. If I had the foresight, I might splash-decant this wine for 30 minutes before diving in, but let’s be realistic here: tonight, I’ll be drinking this with a buttermilk-brined whole-roasted chicken, roasted fennel, and yams. It would also be amazing alongside a ribeye or a hearty lentil stew! —Karen Smith