2016 Tannat 'TNT' Layne Vineyard
Layne Vineyard is one of the original vineyards in the Applegate Valley. These vines were planted in 1975 by Roger Layne and grafted over to Tannat in 2009. This is truly wild vineyard country. Perched high up on the Kubli Bench at approximately 1,600 feet and tucked away in among eucalyptus and madrone groves, it's so far out of the way that it gets frequent visits from apex predators that live in the area, including both mountain lion and black bear. Getting the fruit fully ripe here requires patience and careful crop management, and in 2016 both of these came together splendidly.
In its ancestral form, Tannat from the Old World and from Uruguay (its adoptive New World home) can be an unforgiving grape that makes equally unforgiving wines known for their stern tannins and bracing structure. Our TNT, however, is a different story altogether. Brianne has always loved the Tannat fruit from Applegate for the sublimely luxurious and elegant wines she's able to make from it. The 2016 TNT shows off immediate aromas of opulent blueberry, boysenberry, and loganberry accented by a candied violet high note. A subtle spice framework supports the already expressive fruit, but this wine has miles to go before it reaches the full range of its character. The palate presence is eye-opening with the varietal's natural tannins fully apparent but also very fine and precise underneath a youthfully ripe blackberry fruit profile with nuances of black licorice and anise. It may not display the up-front charm of the 2015 vintage, but it doesn't have to. The 2016 vintage is a thoroughbred, built to go the distance with explosive power and strident elegance. It's hands-down our best TNT yet.