I walked into the Selby tasting room in downtown Healdsburg not really knowing anything about it. I’d heard great things, and I’d walked by the tasting room on more than one occasion — and kept on walking simply because it was packed. And now I know why.

Selby Winery was founded in 1994 by Susie Selby and her father David. For most of those first years the winery was a bit of a “side project:” David lived predominantly in Dallas with his wife; Susie worked as an assistant winemaker for a larger company. It wasn’t until David’s death in 1997 that Susie went full-force into Selby, making what was once her father’s pipe dream into a real wine country reality. Today Selby Winery makes sixteen different varietal and Susie is still at the head of the helm — taking on no partners or investors.

“Enjoy wine; enjoy life” is Susie’s motto and, indeed, it shows in her wines. Go to the tasting room and pick any varietal you like — they all just taste like they’re handcrafted with passion. I wanted to leave Selby with a bottle of everything. But I showed restraint and picked just one — this 2014 Dry Creek Grenache.

About the Wine: The Selby Winery Dry Creek Valley 2014 Grenache is made from 100% Grenache grapes harvested from Theresa Smith Vineyard, located in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley AVA.

14.2% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork on the Selby Winery Dry Creek Valley 2014 Grenache and breathe in the scents of black fig compote, soy, and sage. On the pour this Grenache is a rich red-violet velvet, luminescent, with just a tinge of brown delicately woven in. In the glass the wine is actually a bit of a rusty rouge color — but only if that rust could maintain a sheen. Initial aromas are quite rich with black cherry and black figs with baking spices like nutmeg and clove sprinkled on top. Swirl, and find an almost meat-like umami that lingers in the background with a bit of smoke and pepper.

The palate of the Selby Winery Dry Creek Valley 2014 Grenache is a journey, indeed. The mouthfeel starts light and then amplifies with textural tannins that then discretely fade back out, leaving a light, watery juice-like consistency. Dominant flavors are of black fig, anise, faint hints of clove, nutmeg — as sensed on the nose. The acid, too, amplifies throughout the tasting, but stays with that upward trajectory, leaving just a slight spice-like tingle on the tongue during the lingering finish.

After this initial tasting, I put the Grenache in a decanter for about 30 minutes. This did, in fact, soften the tannins a bit and gave them a more consistent presence on the palate.

Food Pairing: I paired the Selby Winery Dry Creek Valley 2014 Grenache with a crispy skin duck breast, roasted carrot purée, roasted cauliflower steak, and a duck fat fried endive — all topped with my own a l’orange sauce.

Perfect pairing. The roasted carrot purée, with it’s earthy-sweetness, pulled out those baking spice notes in the wine to be sure. The smooth texture of the purée was the perfect complement to those tannins — even after having been softened by decanting. The sauce pulled out the richness of the black cherry and fig notes, while the duck breast called out a bit of the smokey elements. Both texturally and flavor-wise — this was a well-balanced meal and pairing.

More Info: I purchased the Selby Winery 2014 Grenache at the winery’s tasting room in downtown Healdsburg. Retail: $32. For more information about Selby, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Selby Winery website.


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