23 Mar Please The Palate Wine of the Week: Tenbrink Family Wines 2019 Assyrtiko, Suisun Valley
Assyrtiko is a white Greek wine grape indigenous to the island of Santorini. Assyrtiko is predominantly found in Santorini, but it is now planted on the mainland of Greece, as well as a small planting in Australia in the Clare Valley. Surprisingly there is even a small amount planted in the U.S. and one of those places is the Suisun Valley. I was shocked when I first learned of Assyrtiko being planted in the Suisun Valley and brought a bottle home with me from Tenbrink Family Wines. I opened the wine this week and was quite impressed and so the Tenbrink Family Wines 2019 Assyrtiko, Suisun Valley is the Please The Palate wine of the week.
Tenbrink Wines is owned by Steve and Linda Tenbrink who first discovered the Suisun Valley while driving from the Bay Area to Lake Berryessa. In 1982 they found a property, built a house, planted a fruit orchard, and built a fruit stand. By 1996 Steve was growing grapes and selling them to winemakers, including Abe Schoener who told Steve that if he built a winery, he would teach him how to make wine. In 2007, Steve started Tenbrink Family Winery. Steve is very hands-on, using native yeasts and fermenting in puncheons and makes only 200 cases of wine per year.
Steve gets the Assyrtiko from Chuck Wagner (of Caymus) who grows a small amount of Assyrtiko in an experimental block of unique varieties. Steve made his first bottling of Assyrtiko in 2017 and again in 2018.
The Tenbrink Family Winery 2019 Assyrtiko, Suisun Valley ($32) is the third vintage of this wine. The wine has nutty and mineral notes with a touch of floral aromas. On the palate, the wine has a full-bodied texture. Like classic Assyrtiko from Greece, this California Assyrtiko is dry, with no residual sugar, but there is a lovely sweet honey finish. I paired this wine with a simply grilled white fish.
The 2019 is now sold out but the 2021 Tenbrink Family Winery Assyrtiko will be released soon.