Wednesday, December 30, 2009
J Vineyards, NV Brut Cuvée 20
Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
By Gerald D. Boyd
The use of single letters as brand identifiers on wines is not new, with Chateau Y, the sumptuous dry wine of the Sauternes producer Chateau Yquem being one notable example. So, in 1986, when Judy Jordan, daughter of Jordan Winery’s founder, decided to produce high-end sparkling wine in Sonoma County, her decision was to brand the bottles with a large stylish yellow "J," easily recognizable on the green bottles. Use of the single letter was noticeably distinct from the "bank note" labels of Jordan Winery still wines, but the decision also stirred speculation of whether the single letter was J for Jordan or J for Judy.
Initially J Vineyard & Winery, which moved into the former facilities of Piper Sonoma outside Healdsburg, produced only a brut-style Sonoma County sparkling wine by the classic Champagne method. It wasn’t until the early years of this decade that J made two major changes: the first was to add a line of Pinot Noirs, following the pattern of Champagne houses that make small quantities of still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the same grapes used to make their sparkling wines. The second move was to hire veteran winemaker George Bursick to oversee the production of J’s wines and to work with Hollis Price, assistant winemaker in charge of sparkling wine.
J Sparkling Wines and Dosage Profiles
With the holidays upon us, many wine buying decisions include sparkling wines while other thoughts turn to which wine to have with the traditional holiday meal. Choosing a sparkling wine usually comes down to price and style. The style of a sparkling wine is based not only on the grapes used, but also a technique in sparkling wine production known as dosage. At J, the decision on dosage levels is carefully considered because the finished wine must be compatible with one or more applications that are commonly enjoyed during the holidays -- toasting the holidays and celebrating the holiday meal. Equally important is the objective of maintaining a consistent house style to avoid consumer confusion.
The amount of dosage is calculated by the quality and character of the base wine and the house style. By definition, dosage is the final step in the process where a mixture of wine (sometimes brandy) and sugar syrup is added to adjust the sweetness of the finished wine. Sparkling wines are naturally high in acidity, so a dose of sweetness is often needed to soften their sharp edge. The levels of dosage vary, with Brut ranging from .6 to 1.5% residual sweetness and Extra Dry ranging from 1.2 to 2%.
Recently Hollis Price and George Bursick demonstrated the technique of dosage and how J Vineyards handles this critical step, using the J Cuvee 1999 Brut as the base wine. “With dosage you get a free last look at the wine, so the important decision is to determine what we can do with the wine after disgorging,” explained Price. She believes that all wine coming from aging in the bottle, or en tirage, deserves a full look to determine the amount of dosage to be added. “Where is the sugar/acid balance?” Price adds.
Price lined up a row of glasses with the 1999 Brut and increasing levels of sweetness in the dosage. The first wine was sans dosage, and delivered a palate wakening jolt with warm toasty notes, ripe fruit and a dry tart finish. Increasing levels of dosage followed, starting at 1.1% sweetness to a maximum of 1.4% sweet dosage. A few tenths of a percent doesn’t sound like much, but the impression, as the dosage grew sweeter, was significant. At the top end, 1.4% tasted rich and textured, noticeably different than the sample dosed at 1.1%, but too sweet for my taste.
My preference was for the sample with a dosage of 1.2% for its creamy smoothness and ripe green apple character. The exercise was a reminder that a Brut sparkling wine usually tops out at 1.5% residual sweetness and that style (a.k.a. dosage level) is important in selecting a Champagne or sparkling wine. It also points out that sparkling wine labels tell the consumer the general style -- Brut, Extra Dry -- but not how dry or sweet a Brut is (or that Extra Dry is sweeter than Brut) since the range, based on producer preference, is from near dry at .6% to noticeably sweet at 1.5%.
Price also wanted to show that the type of dosage used can make a difference in the texture and flavor profile of the finished sparkling wine. In the 1999 Brut, the base wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but Price formulated a dosage using just Chardonnay and another one using brandy in place of still wine. The differences were striking. The 1.25% Chardonnay dosage was noticeably sweet, with ripe apple aromatics and flavors, while the 1.1% brandy dosage had more texture and didn’t taste as sweet; I wondered if this was deceiving because the sweet fruit of the Chardonnay might have presented a kind of gustatory trompe l‘oell. I liked both samples, but thought the brandy dosage smoothed the rough edges of the sweet dosage. J Brut is finished at 1.2% sweetness while the J Cuvee 20 is sweeter at 1.5% residual sweetness.
What I took away from this somewhat esoteric exercise is that, as a consumer, care is important when selecting a Champagne or sparkling wine. Learn all you can about the wine before purchasing bubbly to assure a more pleasurable experience, either by talk to your local merchant or going onto websites such as J’s.
J Pinot Noirs
Sparkling wine, as good as is, doesn’t fit with all wine and food combinations. I’ve tried sparkling wine with red meat, but prefer a red wine like Pinot Noir (a personal favorite), especially with holiday meals. George Bursick, winemaker at J Vineyards has been making a string of impressive Pinot Noirs under the J Vineyards label. Before joining J, Bursick was the long-time winemaker for Ferrari-Carano, where he was better known for a line of red wines that didn’t include Pinot Noir. “Actually Pinot Noir closely resembles Sangiovese that I worked with for 20 years,” explains Bursick. “The fermentation techniques that I experimented with leading up to the creation of Ferrai-Carano’s “Siena” have made for an easy transition to Pinot Noir.”
Since the start of the Pinot project at J in 2007, Bursick has produced over 100 Pinot Noir lots, each representing a unique outcome from a range of variables and over 15 separate vineyard sites. The variables include soil type, grape exposure, clone/rootstock and a whole host of things that affect the character of the finished wine. In the winery, Bursick is experimenting with another long list of variables including the discovery of three yeast strains that were delivered to the United States in the 1940s but were never used. “I’m tracking and creating all these variables to find the ‘gems’ hidden within a particular vineyard, and I definitely anticipate additional wines in our Pinot Noir line.”
Good Pinot Noir ain’t cheap, and the J Vineyards pinots reflect that reality. Prices for the quartet of 2007 J Pinots range from $35 for the Russian River Valley to $70 for the Sonoma Coast. The Russian River Valley Pinots are packed with bright fruit flavors, medium intensity, good texture and length, while the Sonoma Coast Pinot shows an intriguing earthiness backed by berry and mocha notes. All four of the Pinot Noirs are finished at 14.3% alcohol, suggesting a strong coincidence, a feat of stellar winemaking, or both.
December 2, 2009
J Russian River Valley Sparkling Wines
J 1997 & 1998 Vintage Brut, Late-Disgorged
J 2001 Vintage Brut
J Brut Rosé NV
J Cuvée 20 Brut NV
Thursday, November 12, 2009
J VINEYARDS WRAPS UP 2009 HARVEST
Completed Before Heavy Rains Arrive
HEALDSBURG, CALIFORNIA — (November 9, 2009) — J Vineyards & Winery wrapped up its 2009 harvest in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley on October 9, and not a moment too soon. It started pouring rain on October 12. Despite the rain, cheers were heard on the winery crush pad with the loudest coming from winemaker George Bursick, a veteran of 31 North Coast harvests.
Bursick looked quite pleased with the overall quality of the fruit and expects to make exceptional wines from the 2009 vintage. He also breathed a sigh of relief, dodging a typhoon-influenced storm that dropped some of the heaviest amounts of rain ever recorded in October in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“It’s a great feeling to have all the grapes in the winery just as the October deluge began,” said Bursick. “The long, cool growing season in our Estate vineyards and throughout our independent grower vineyards provided an excellent opportunity for the grapes to achieve perfect phenolic ripeness and superb fruit flavors,” he added. “Given the samples I’ve tasted so far, I expect 2009 will be another banner year for our Russian River Valley wines.”
For most of the growing season, weather conditions along the Russian River Valley could not have cooperated more fully for vineyard managers. The growing season was generally uneventful, marked by slightly cooler than average temperatures and highlighted by fewer heat spikes in June, July and August. A late burst of heat in September kicked harvest into high gear, and although one rainstorm made its way through Sonoma County the same month, it was just light enough to settle the dust.
J Vineyards viticulturist John Erbe agrees with the assessment. “The overall cool weather combined with warm, but not hot, afternoons allowed the grapes to ripen at a nice, even pace,” he said. “There were no weather issues, and the progress of this harvest, ending before the onset the first major fall storm, proved to be well-timed.”
Erbe added, “This ‘almost perfect’ ripening period produced grapes with uncharacteristically small berries which contributed to ‘low juice-to-skin’ ratios, creating wines of unusual depth and concentration. In most cases, the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir berries were less than one-quarter inch in diameter.”
J Vineyards & Winery is unique in that for twenty years, the winery was focused entirely on producing highly acclaimed Russian River Valley sparkling wines. With the arrival of George Bursick in 2006, however, the winery began a program of high-end Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietal wines. There is also a Vin Gris, a Viognier, and a Pinotage in the Russian River Valley portfolio sold exclusively at the winery. A seductive Pinot Gris is made by the winery, although a good portion of the fruit is presently sourced in cool climates outside the Russian River Valley, and this will be the case until additional vines can be planted.
The sparkling wine harvest began in early August, with grapes picked for their optimum acidity and low sugar levels, a necessity in making world-class méthode champenoise. Upon the completion of the sparkling wine harvest, it was then time to pick grapes for J’s signature Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. J’s varietal wine program now represents about fifty percent of the winery’s production, and more than a few lots from the 2009 Harvest are being considered for special single-vineyard designations.
TASTING J WINES
A visit to the J Vineyards & Winery “Signature Bar” and “Bubble Room” is a must for anyone headed to Sonoma County and the Russian River Valley. J’s two tasting salons are the perfect hip locations to sample the current vintages and catch up on the latest winery news and information. The Signature Bar is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tastings are $20 per person for a selection of five wines.
The Bubble Room features a three-part seasonal food and wine experience prepared by Executive Chef Mark Caldwell. The menu is designed to highlight the “terroir” of each of the six wines in the pairings. The cost for the Bubble Room tasting is $60 per person and reservations are encouraged.
J Vineyards & Winery is located at 11447 Old Redwood Highway in Healdsburg. For more information call (707) 431-3646 or go to www.jwine.com.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The setting was perfect - a beautiful sunny day in the California wine country, a waterfall flowing into a small stream, leaves turning into their fall colors of purple, lavender, gold, and rose, and an elegant contemporary winery ready for tasting and Dilek Sezen.
Please call to arrange a personal appointment: 415.810.1002,
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
50 Mark West Springs Road Santa Rosa California 95403
Box Office: 707-546-3600
For Immediate Release November 10, 2009
Kristi Buffo, Wells Fargo Center for the Arts - 707-527-7006
George Rose, J Vineyards & Winery - 707- 431-5233
J VINEYARDS & WINERY TO BECOME EXCLUSIVE SPARKLING WINE SPONSOR OF WELLS FARGO CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Santa Rosa, CA (November 10, 2009)—J Vineyards & Winery located in Healdsburg, California in the heart of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley is joining Santa Rosa’s community non-profit arts center, Wells Fargo Center for the Arts as its exclusive sparkling wine sponsor. Beginning November 16 with the performance of Champions of the Dance, J’s Méthode Champenoise Cuvée 20 Brut Non-Vintage will be available at all performances, events, and annual fundraising activities. Proceeds from the one-year exclusive partnership, which includes financial and in-kind donation, will benefit the Center’s arts and education programs, including its Education Through the Arts program serving 30,000 students annually.
Founded in 1981, the non-profit Wells Fargo Center for the Arts hosts an impressive 1,000 events with 500,000 patrons and visitors annually. “Their consistent messaging is to enrich, educate and entertain members of this community,” says J Founder & President Judy Jordan. “And I am delighted to share this ambitious vision with Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.”
“We’re excited to offer our patrons the added opportunity to enjoy J’s signature sparkling wine at our performances and events,” says Rick Nowlin, the Arts Center’s executive director, “and, grateful for the generosity of J Vineyards and Winery. Our mission and our programs rely on contributions such as this—enabling us to present world-class performances and education programs serving children and families, and nurture the arts in our community by providing a home for six local performing arts companies.”
Judy Jordan recognizes J Vineyards & Winery’s sponsorship with Wells Fargo Center for the Arts as “the latest in great pairings.” “At J Vineyards & Winery we are committed to providing wines of unparalleled quality and to creating an experience that enhances the lives of our guests,” says Jordan. “Our core values embrace a strong sense of community and we are hopeful J’s sponsorship will promote art, the North Bay community and all the wonderful citizens in this county.”
About J Vineyards & Winery
Founded in 1986 by Judy Jordan, J Vineyards & Winery produces site-specific, cool climate and Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, as well as the highly lauded J Sparkling Wines. J’s Healdsburg Visitor Center has elegantly showcased sparkling and varietal wines with artisanal food pairings since its opening in 1999. The sophisticated contemporary setting offers wine tastings at the signature bar or table service in the private tasting salon…..The Bubble Room.
About Wells Fargo Center for the Arts
A non-profit community arts center, Wells Fargo Center for the Arts is home to world-class performances, nationally recognized education programs, contemporary sculpture, and many popular events. The Arts Center is located in the heart of the Sonoma wine country and ranked among California’s top performing arts presenters. Together with its resident companies, the Center presents more than 100 performances each year in music, dance, theater, renowned speakers, and comedy; and education programs serving 30,000 children and adults annually. Owned and operated by the Luther Burbank Memorial Foundation, the Center relies on charitable community donations to achieve its mission—to enrich, educate, and entertain.
Monday, November 2, 2009
The vibe: Sleek, artful, and very much about good bubbles with food: On weekends, spring for the sit-down pairing ($60) in the Bubble Room, for inspired food like the "BLT"―foie gras, applewood-smoked bacon, heirloom tomato, and mâche on toast points with the J Brut Rosé. Sips to try: J "Cuvée 20" Brut, J Pinot Gris, and J Robert Thomas Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Extras: Stellar still wines along with the sparklers. $20 tasting fee (5-wine pour); 707/431-3646.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Harvest is over and George Bursick finally has a second to breathe. The VP of winemaking for J Vineyards & Winery makes a suite of wines with plots of land that are unlike anything coming out of northern California. Go ahead and Google “J wines” and witness the lauding. So now’s the time to place an order for your Thanksgiving meal (all available at www.jwine.com). Start with Cuvee 20, an affordable sparkler that will set the tone right, then move into Pinot Gris and then J’s signature Pinot Noirs. Since J makes sparkling wines that give the French guys a run for their grapes, we suggest a night-cap of J’s late-disgorged vintage Brut.
SF: What’s the secret to making sparkling wine as complex as yours with northern CA grapes?
GB: We are one of only a handful of wineries outside of France to use a Coquard press. It presses the fruit gently from side-to-side, which minimizes the extraction of tannin and allowing for virtually no maceration, preserving the wine’s flavor.
SF: J seems to have a small monopoly on the Russian River Valley. Is it common for one winery to have land all over the place?
GB: Not many wineries have this much dirt – J farms 257 acres of vineyards checkerboarded throughout the Valley with over 20 different soil types in varying climates. This means I have a broad palette of flavors with which to make our wines.
SF: You’re in a band called Private Reserve with other wine guys. Do you drink beer or wine after the show?
GB: At practices and before gigs, we usually compare unreleased wines with each other. After playing drums hard on stage, though, believe me, nothing beats a cold beer.
Friday, October 16, 2009
90 Paul Lukacs Oct 13, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
2007 J Vineyards Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
Medium-light golden yellow; attractive, floral, spicy, toasty, white peach and green apple aroma with hints of zest and honey; medium-full body; slightly viscous, buttery, tropical fruit flavors with a slightly creamy mouthfeel; lingering aftertaste.
Very highly recommended.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Team Brut Force had a great weekend at the MS150. We had a solid team of riders and we worked hard all weekend.
What is the Bike MS: Cox Atlanta Ride?
Endorsed by ardent cyclists and novices alike, the ride offers a two-day fundraising ride through the beautiful surrounding countryside of Callaway Gardens and Pine Mountain, Georgia, a short distance from Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson Airport, with spectacular views and historic towns along the way. Georgia's Two-Day Cycling Tradition is a non-profit sporting event celebrating its 23rd year in the fight against multiple sclerosis benefiting the National MS Society-Georgia Chapter.
Like its sister ride, the Bike MS: Georgia Power Savannah Ride, the ride is reaching new heights in an effort to better the lives of all Georgians living with MS. By joining hundreds of riders, participants will be making a profound difference in the lives of people living with MS who are served by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society-Georgia Chapter. The Bike MS: Cox Atlanta Ride is one of two rides hosted by the National MS Society-Georgia Chapter and together will raise more than $1.4 million for client programs and research in 2009. Both rides are regarded by cycling enthusiasts as premier rides in Georgia with experienced management, well-coordinated routes, and special attention to riders' safety, comfort and enjoyment.
Proceeds from the ride will help support various programs that aid the 8,500 Georgians with MS and their families in all 159 counties of Georgia. The Bike MS: Cox Atlanta Ride also joins thousands of cyclists nationwide in raising $77 million in an effort to fund research and local client programs. By joining the movement and riding in the Bike MS: Cox Atlanta Ride, you have the power to create a world free of MS.
After spending the majority of its history nestled between Conyers and Eatonton, GA, Bike MS made a bold move for its 20th Anniversary and relocated to the stunning Callaway Gardens in 2006. This year, we're fortunate to have Cox Enterprises as our title sponsor.
For more information on this very rewarding and enjoyable fundraiser visit: http://www.bikemsatlanta.org/
And for more information on J Vineyards & Winery visit: www.jwine.com
Monday, September 14, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
J Vineyards 2007 Pinotage, Russian River Valley
Dark, dense and concentrated, with spicy, peppery, floral aromas reminiscent a bit of Syrah. Rich and focused on wild blackberry fruit, this is tightly structured, rustic and firmly tannic, ending with a wide mix of fruit, herb and anise. Drink now through 2014.—J.L.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
By: Scott Greenberg The Vine GuyAugust 20, 2009
I recently looked up "delicious," "stylish" and "elegant" in the dictionary and I was shocked to discover that none of these words begins with the letter "J". Now I know that technically they don't begin with the letter "J," but I just thought that since all of the wines that I have sampled from J Vineyards were delicious, stylish and elegant, the winery must be named for one of these adjectives. But, obviously, I was wrong.
It turns out that J Vineyards & Winery was started in 1986 by Judy Jordan -- note, both her first and last names begin with the elusive letter -- in the cool-climate Russian River Valley, located just outside of Healdsburg, Calif. Judy, founder and president, is a second-generation vintner whose family is involved with the Jordan Winery. She knew from a very young age that she wanted to strike out on her own and develop her own style by starting her own winery. But it would take a little time to get there.
After graduating from Stanford University -- where she was a star tennis player -- with a degree in Earth sciences and geology, Judy worked for a geophysics corporation in Denver before returning to work at Jordan Winery. Working in the family business allowed Judy to expand her knowledge in various aspects of the business, including vineyard management, marketing, soil analysis and geology, where her training as a geologist paid off. Eventually, Judy spread her wings and brought all of her experiences together to form J Vineyards.
Ten years after founding the winery, Judy purchased the former Piper Sonoma winemaking facility in Healdsburg, in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Today, J Vineyards & Winery owns 10 estate vineyards totaling 257 planted acres in the Russian River Valley. These vineyards provide fruit ranging from benchland vineyards on the cool western edge of the appellation to hillside vineyards of volcanic soil in the northeastern part of the valley. Given her background, Judy pays careful attention to each vineyard, including soil composition and mineral content. This diversity allows the winemaking team to take advantage of the many different subplots so they can vinify and blend wines to maximize flavor, balance and structure.
And since 2006, George Bursick has led the winemaking team. George has implemented several significant changes to improve the winemaking and vinification processes at the winery. His goal is to create wines with supple mouthfeel that display the unique characteristics of each vineyard. George has added a deft hand at crafting quality Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and, of course, the highly regarded line of sparkling wines including the Vintage Brut and Non-Vintage Brut as well as the Non-Vintage Brut Rosé. His mission to create wines that are delicious, elegant and stylish is well on its way. Retail prices are approximate.
2008 J Vineyards Pinot Gris, Russian River Valley, Calif. ($16)
Made from a blend of fruit from several Russian River Valley vineyards, this Pinot Gris exhibits complex flavors of nectarine, white peach and green melon. A hint of honeysuckle and tropical fruit is accented by the abundant acidity and provides a long, clean finish.
2007 J Vineyards Viognier, Hoot Owl Vineyard, Alexander Valley, Calif. ($30)
I am partial to Rhone varietals, and this lovely white wine is why. It displays rich aromas of citrus blossom, pineapple and acacia flowers. The palate features flavors of pear, hazelnut and citrus up front and a touch of honey and vanilla on the lovely, lush finish.
2006 J Vineyards Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Calif. ($28)
Not your average California Chardonnay, this version features beautiful scents of nectarine, peach and toasted almond on the fragrant bouquet. In the mouth, the wine feels rich, with creamy flavors of peach, pear and toasty vanilla. Hints of baking spices on the weighty finish add beautiful depth.
2007 J Vineyards Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Calif. ($35)
A pretty wine that expresses delicate scents of cherry, violets and dark blueberry that lead to layered fruit of cherry, raspberry and wild strawberry on the sumptuous frame. Additional notes of cocoa and orange rind round out the firm but supple finish.
Non-Vintage J Vineyards Cuvée 20 Brut, Russian River Valley, Calif. ($20)
This sparkling wine is a great way to start any party, with a bouquet full of toasted brioche, green apple and lemon scents. Tight, compact bubbles carry flavors of ripe apple, citrus and roasted almonds across the entire palate. Great acidity adds a crisp finish.
2002 J Vineyards Vintage Brut, Russian River Valley, Calif. ($50)
A luxurious wine featuring aromas of Gala apple, ripe pear and yeasty notes on the nose that lead into rich flavors of creamy stone fruits on the palate. Hints of cloves and toasted nuts expand in layers on the long, lush finish in perfect harmony with the bright acidity and tiny bubbles.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
90 Points - Paul Lukacs, Aug 18, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Wine, etc.: Perfect pinot noirs for summer
By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR
Every pinot noir column should start with an apology. Prices for these wines are out of the range of most consumers, but $50 is about what it takes to get a full-body pinot noir from the West Coast. That's a far cry from the time when only the wines from Burgundy commanded those kinds of prices.
Blame it on price and demand. As the grape has become more popular, vineyard owners have been able to increase the price of their fruit or sell their land. Like in Burgundy, producers have been making small lots of pinot noir from vineyards whose fruit was often used in blends. Small means expensive.
Still, a good pinot noir at this time of the year is very enjoyable. It is the wine we pour with grilled salmon, lamb, hamburgers, cold pasta and even chicken. There are plenty of excellent pinot noirs coming out of the Willamette Valley in Oregon and in Monterey and Russian River Valley in California. Here are a bunch of pinot noirs we recently tasted from the West Coast and even France:
J Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2006 ($38)
Known most for its sparkling wine, J also produces an excellent pinot noir using grapes from the prized Russian River Valley. Broad in the palate, it has the earthy, mushroom character often found in burgundy. Red berry flavors and a generous dollop of spice.
Find recommended wine: J Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: Eastport Liquors, Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Last week during a blind tasting flight of 2007 Sonoma Pinot Noirs, I came across one wine that stood out, and that I really liked.
It was dark in color, notably spicy and peppery, with pretty floral scents and ripe, vivid black and wild berry fruit. Tight in structure, dense and concentrated, even a tad rustic, ending with a complex array of fruit, herb and anise, with firm tannins.
My first reaction: Is this a Syrah? Had I missed the change in varietals in the lineup? Did we shift from Pinot to Rhône reds?
The wine certainly fit the critique some people have of some California Pinots--that is, they’re too big and almost Syrah-like in their structure, strength and flavor profile.
When the bags came off, the wine made sense. It was a 2007 Pinotage ($38) from J Vineyards and Winery (which is owned by Judy Jordan, the daughter of Jordan Winery owner Tom Jordan, but is a separate entity). I liked the new J Pinots, too, but the Pinotage caught my fancy that day, and later that night as I tried it after it had had eight hours of aeration. It was still going strong the next day.
It’s a wonderful wine. Pinotage is rather rare in California, and I can only recall having tried a few others over the years. The grape is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. The latter grape gives it its tannic backbone and muscle, along with the pepper and spice, balancing out the more tender, fleshy, fruitier elements of Pinot Noir.
Pinotage first gained recognition as one of the signature wines from South Africa, where it was created in the 1920s. However, as my colleague James Molesworth pointed out in an article a few years ago, the grape and wine have fallen out of favor there.
J’s Pinotage isn’t the lone Pinotage from California. I’ve given high marks to Fort Ross’ Sonoma Coast bottlings as well. If you like Pinot but have never experienced a Pinotage, you owe it to yourself to try one and taste the crossroad of Pinot and Cinsault, or the point where red Burgundy meets the Southern Rhône.
Friday, July 10, 2009
The 2007 vintage marks a significant change for J Vineyards & Winery, whose widely recognizable yellow “J” logo has distinguished both J varietal and sparkling wines for over twenty years. With the 2007 vintage, J Vineyards & Winery is launching a new look to the winery’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines with the introduction of a new "J Vineyards" brand and new labeling.
The new “J Vineyards” brand and packaging (above) reflects the Russian River Valley which is the primary source of grapes for the winery’s Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay. The background terroir pattern on the simple and sleek labels is infused into the paper, reflecting striations in water, stone and vines, which are the important components of winemaking.
The new labels represent a new commitment to ultra-premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay under the direction of veteran winemaker, George Bursick, who joined J Vineyards in May, 2006 after a distinguished 22-year career at Ferrari-Carano Winery. Although the 2006 vintage wines were the first fully executed vintage under Bursick’s direction, in 2007 he was able to more fully institute his innovative winemaking techniques which will continue to evolve and be refined over several vintages. Fortunately, J has the financial resources and the drive to give Bursick the freedom to acquire the latest winemaking equipment necessary to fine-tune and advance the varietal wine program.
George Bursick is driven to create Pinot Noir with elegance and balance through detailed and gentle winemaking practices. Most importantly, he is committed to create wine with supple mouth feel and most of his winemaking techniques, which are often risky, are directed at achieving that end. His winemaking regimen, which is not defined by a recipe and is constantly evolving through experimentation, includes the following: (1) Removal of seeds to reduce immature tannins. Adequate tannin is obtainable from the skins which can be left in the fermenter longer as the skin tannins are less aggressive. Seeds are removed by the de-stemmer, the vibrating table, and special Italian-made tanks which allow easy disposal of seeds which sink to the bottom. In 2007, 40% of the seeds were removed, in 2008 65%-70%, and in 2009 90% of the seeds will be removed; (2) Long fermentations in open top fermenters are employed resulting in softer extraction. Up to 10 days cold soak followed by 3 to 4 week fermentation and up to 10 days of maceration after dryness before pressing; (3) Use of indigenous yeasts and inoculation with yeast strains from the University of Dijon that date back to the 1930s; (4) Minimal new oak aging. Bursick dislikes new oak for Pinot Noir, preferring an “oak slap” for Chardonnay. In 2008 and 2009, he is aging the Pinot Noir primarily in second-year French oak barrels previously used for Chardonnay; (5) Slight fining is done if needed and gentle filtering is made necessary by the high risk winemaking in which minimal sulfur is used.
Judy Jordan founded J in 1986 as a small méthode champenoise sparkling wine project at her father Tom Jordan’s winery in Alexander Valley. In a short time, J set the standard for sparkling wine in California. After moving to the old Piper-Sonoma facility in 1996 and remodeling it in 1999, the winery launched an enhanced Visitor Center experience for consumers which remains the industry standard. Today, J produces a Vintage Brut and a Late-Disgorged Vintage Brut, a Non-Vintage Brut Rosé, and a Non-Vintage J Cuvée 20 Brut. The iconic yellow “J” will continue to identify J sparkling wines. Volume will decrease as the winery’s emphasis shifts to varietal still wines, but the sparkling wine program will maintain and even exceed its present level of virtuosity.
J Vineyards & Winery now farms ten estate vineyards totaling just over 274 planted acres in the Russian River Valley. There are 35 sub-blocks, nine rootstocks, 15 clones of Pinot Noir and 3 clones of Chardonnay. Under the direction of noted viticulturist John Erbe, the emphasis is on site-specific wines of great character and sense of place. J also buys fruit from a few prestigious vineyards. A map of the vineyards is on page 4.
In late June, I sat down with Bursick and tasted through the 2007 lineup of J Vineyards Pinot Noirs. The wines are scheduled for a mid-to-late August to September 1 release. When asked about the timing of the release, Bursick replied, “Release is dictated by the aromas. Texture is always present. The wines will be tight initially due to reductive winemaking.” The wines were all decanted before my tasting but I definitely noticed some modicum of restraint initially in the wines with aromas and flavors blossoming after an hour or so in the glass as we tasted through the wines. The Russian River Valley appellation bottling is the best choice to drink now. The other Pinot Noirs are approachable but will benefit from decanting or another six months in the bottle. These are all marvelous Pinot Noirs sporting elegance, smooth textures and impeccable balance. They ooze “pinosity.” Bursick is definitely on to something and as he becomes more familiar with the idiosyncrasies of each vineyard and is able to fully institute his winemaking program, J Vineyards will surely be a reference standard not only for California sparkling wine, but also Russian River Pinot Noir.
2007 J Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 14,500 cases, $35. A blend of 15 different vineyards from estate vineyards as well as selected growers in the Russian River Valley appellation. Includes a variety of clones, mostly Dijon, as well as Rochioli and 2A. Aged 15 months in 30% new French oak. Blended just before bottling. This wine is the most expressive aromatically in the lineup. Very fragrant aromas of Bing cherries with an underpinning of baking spices. Cherrydriven flavors with subtle hints of brown spice, herbs and oak. Smoothly textured, vibrant and clean with impressive harmony. Very drinkable now. Quintessential Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.
2007 J Vineyards Nicole’s Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 1,300 cases, $65. The fruit for this wine was harvested from J’s crown jewel hillside 42-acre vineyard planted to Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier overlooking the Russian River Valley. The soil is Arbuckle series and uplifted river material. Clones include 2A, Dijon 113, 115. Aged in 40% new French oak. Richly scented with black cherries and ripe berries. The rich and mouth filling melange of berry fruit is supported by a tannic edge that suggests age ability. The finish goes on and on. My notes say, wow! Enough said.
2007 J Vineyards Robert Thomas Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 400 cases, $65. Winemakers talk about vineyards as if they have personalities and Bursick refers to Robert Thomas Vineyard as “feisty.” This 50-acre vineyard is located in a cool westerly location on Westside Road along the Russian River and is one of the last to ripen. Some parts of the vineyard never do ripen fully and are used in sparkling wine. Leaves are stripped from both sides of the vines to attempt to achieve phenolic maturity (Bursick jokes, “Kids, don’t try this at home!”). Soils are Zamora silty clay loam, dense with gravel. The clones are 114, 777, 828, Pommard, Rochioli and Swan. Aged in 40% new French oak. Brooding and shy aromas of berry preserves, loam and mint. This wine has the most prodigious fruit and structure in the lineup, yet is not jammy. The dark red fruits are highlighted by notes of cola, tea and dark mocha. Like all the 2007 J Pinot Noirs, the texture is as satiny as a baby’s bottom. Needs time and hardy food.
2007 J Vineyards Barrel 16 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 300 cases, $70. This wine is composed of the 16 best barrels in the cellar sourced from J’s estate vineyards. Aged in 30% new French oak. Moderately deep reddish-purple color. Shy but appealing scents of deep, dark fruit, herb garden and brioche. Luscious black cherry and black raspberry flavors are discreetly concentrated and have a remarkable persistence on the pleasing finish which displays an added echo of dark chocolate, savory herbs and toast. The tannins are very supple, and the mouthfeel is rich, sumptuous and velvety. About as perfect as it gets. Ridiculous now but will only get better with cellaring.
2007 J Vineyards Nonny’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 350 cases, $70. Sourced from a 70-acre vineyard adjacent River Road planted in 2000 and newly replanted in 2006 and 2007 to Dijon clones 115, 667, 777, 828 and Calera selection. The soil in this vineyard is Arbuckle Series, a reddish loam with gravel striations. Aged in 30% new French oak. Forest floor and truffle aromas are front and center with dark fruits finding intensity with time in the glass. Earth-dusted ripe strawberry, black cherry and roasted plum flavors are lush and satisfying. The wine is caressing in the mouth with tannin so fine as to be imperceptible, and ends in a long and powerfully aromatic finish. The soil speaks loudly in this beguiling wine.
2007 J Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 350 cases, $70. Sourced from the southern reaches of the Sonoma Coast appellation. Aged in 30% new French oak. An earthy wine which sports powerfully scented and flavored dark fruits that are feral and exotic in type. A hint of mint adds interest on the nose. Very smoothly textured with fine-grain tannins and the slightest hint of oak on the finish. A bright future awaits this lovely wine.
I visit many wineries in my travels along the Pinot trail, but J‘s modern Visitor Center is one of the classiest I have ever met with. The Visitor Center provides several tasting experiences for visitors. When J launched its Visitor Center in 1999, it was the first to blend wine tastings with seasonal food pairings. The Signature Bar is open for tasting daily, except major holidays, 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
The J Bubble Room experience offers sit-down service of library vintages and small production wines with a tasting menu. The J Essence Tasting includes transportation to one of J’s estate vineyards, a private vineyard tour, and an intimate seven course wine and food pairing luncheon in the Bubble Room. Reservations are required for all but tasting at the Signature Bar. Tours of J are offered daily at 11:00 AM and 2:30 PM by appointment. J Vineyards & Winery is located at 11447 Old Redwood Highway in Healdsburg. The phone is 888-JWINE-CO and the website is www.jwine.com.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
J Cuvee 20 Brut NV
On the wine list
by-the-glass & by-the-bottle at:
Nonni's Ristorante Italiano
420 Mendocino Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Lunch: Monday thru Friday 11:AM - 5:PM
Dinner: Sunday thru Thursday 5:PM - 9:PM, Friday and Saturday 5:PM - 10:PM
Friday, June 19, 2009
June 19, 2009
J Vineyards’ Bubble Room Revisited
I recently had the pleasure of revisiting the Bubble Room at J Vineyards and Winery—an elegantly appointed salon with views of the property’s garden’s and lily ponds, where guests can gather, enjoy a glass of sparkling wine before their vineyard tour, and later sit down to regale their senses with the extraordinary wine and food pairings created by chef Mark E. Caldwell. After a walk through the breeze-strewn Nicole’s Vineyard in California’s Russian River Valley, I tasted the current vintage of Pinot noir from that particular site. The J Vineyards 2006 Nicole’s Vineyard Pinot Noir has a brilliant garnet color and a jam-like character. The nose exudes pomegranate, raspberry, cranberry, and lovely rose-petal aroma. The palate is intense and juicy with wild cherry and lingonberry, more pomegranate, and caramel. The long finish shows sturdy tannins and a creamy final note of cherry vanilla.
Back in the Bubble Room, we tasted through J’s current releases of still wine (owner Judy Jordan originally focused on sparkling wines when she founded the winery in 1986) and the non-vintage sparkling rosé—all of which were accompanied by Chef Caldwell’s creations. The 2007 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, paired with spring asparagus soup topped with crème fraîche, has an intoxicating hazelnut nose and a beautifully rich viscosity. Nectarine and lemon-lime flavors refresh the taste buds, and the finish culminates with a tingling minerality. The wine is reminiscent of a Puligny-Montrachet.
The 2006 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir—accompanied by Masami beef in roasted-garlic vinaigrette—is one of the most complete expressions of the region and includes a wide variety of blocks of fruit that represent the diversity of soils found there. Garnet in color with a slight copper tinge, this pinot has a nose of spice, cherry, and smoked game. The palate is dominated by rich cherry, cranberry, smoky sage, wild mushroom, and a piquant touch of rusty minerality.
Although all of the still wines made a good showing, my favorite of the tasting was definitely the Non-vintage Brut Rosé. This extraordinary sparkling wine, light salmon-pink in color, has a nose of buttery brioche and brine. Its texture is magnificent—a fluffy meringue that coats the mouth, especially on the mid-palate, with flavors of white raspberry and a cherry-lozenge sweetness. To learn more about the Bubble Room experience or make reservations, visit www.jwine.com/bubbleroom
Robb Report’s Senior Vice President, Editor in Chief
Sparkling wine: the view from California
By Steve Heimoff
A great California bubbly, right up at the top. It’s unusual for a sparkling wine house to hold back their basic vintage brut this long, but J did, and consumers benefit. The wine has some bottle age, and is softly picking up nutty, dried fruit, floral and yeasty notes. Enormously complex, it should continue to develop for many years.
— S.H. (12/31/2008)
Monday, June 15, 2009
91 Points & Featured Wine - Wine Review On-line
J Vineyards & Winery, Russian River Valley (Sonoma County, California) Pinot Noir 2006 ($38)
This fragrant Pinot Noir, made under the guidance of George Bursick, formerly of Ferrari-Carano, was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels and draws admirably on the potential of Russian River fruit. Forward and fragrant with traces of anise, boiled tea and red berries, there is a sweet fruit attack, with medium fruit and tannins and a long finish at 14.3% alcohol. Made from J's estate vineyards in the Russian River Valley, it shows a lot of class and potential. 91 Gerald D. Boyd
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
By Robert Whitley
Mar 25, 2009
J Vineyards & Winery
Gold 2006 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley $38.00
Silver 2000 Vintage Brut Russian River Valley $50.00
Friday, May 1, 2009
Inside The World of Pinot Noir
April 6, 2009, By Adam Leith Gollner
Part of the lure of Pinot oenophilia is the challenge of finding a truly exceptional bottle. Connoisseurs, affectionately known as "Pinot wienies," can go on and on about the ways in which quality varies from vintage to vintage, from vineyard to vineyard, and from bottle to bottle (even in the same year). "Pinot Noir takes a lot of education to understand," Mike Sinor (Sinor-LaVallee), a founder of the World of Pinot Noir, told me. "And 80% of it sucks."
As intricate as the wine is, it's pretty easy to tell when it sucks. "You can't hide the flaws," explained George Bursick, the vice president of winemaking at J Vineyards. "Pinot Noirs are unforgiving. There's no margin of error. Skilled winemakers can fix bad Cabs, but you can't do that with Pinots. They're so pure. It's all purity. It's such a difficult grape to bring to consumers in an elegant way."
Before spiraling into this Burgundelicious haze, I'd spent the afternoon tasting many Californian Pinots at the festival tents in Shell Beach. I don't remember most of it. This much is certain: world-class wines are being made in the sunshine state. Here are my top five, with the adjectives I found in my notebook the morning after:
J - Classic. A holy grail of California Pinot Noir.
Hirsch - Harmonious and perfect.
Foxen - Foxy. The Central Coast at its best.
Patz-Hall - So drinkable. Their bottlings of Hyde grapes = liquid gold.
Arcadian - Raw mouse.
"The French have had centuries to figure out what grows good where," explained Bursick. "They had 700 years of noblemen and monks killing each other over the best plots of land. The conditions are completely different. Burgundy has decomposing limestone; we have tectonic plates, sandstone, exposed beaches, prehistoric marshes, geysers and all sorts of Pleistocene issues. We don't have time to do trial and error, but we do have technology. We do electromagnetic conductivity tests by sending computerized probes into the soil to measure the parameters. Then we plant rootstock accordingly. Nobody in the world is doing anything like this - it's way trick."
2006 J Pinot Noir Nicole's Vineyard - FIVE Stars
Compliments: Duck Confit & Soft Cheese
This is the sort of California Pinot Noir I would be happy to drink always as balanced and refined as it is nuanced and elegant. The nose is subtly spicy, and it drinks velvety: raspberries, blackberries, pomegranates, a bit of chocolate silk.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
7th Annual Pinot Noir Shootout 2009, Affairs of the Vine
J Winery 2006 Nicole's Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, $65.00
1409 cases produced
Male: Cocoa, strawberry and cranberry aromas deliver the same onto the palate, forest notes and brown baking spices highlight the finish on this many layered wine. Round and delicious.
Female: Beautiful, expressive aromatics with earth, mushroom, and nutmeg melding seamlessly with bright cherry, wild berry and forest floor notes. Wow! Rich and elegant with a long finish.
The tasting panels are comprised of a diverse range of wine industry professionals from varying disciplines including restaurant and retail trade, winemakers, wine writers, wine educators, and consultants.
The 7th Annual Pinot Noir Shootout judging panel included:
Anthony Austin, Winemaker
Scott Clemens, Editor, Epicurean Traveler
Susan Darwin, Wine Consultant
Debra Del Fiorentino, Wine Consultant, Wine Radius
Barbara Drady, Wine Evangelist, Affairs of the Vine
John Drady, Vintner
Rusty Gaffney, The Prince of Pinot, http://www.Pinotfile.com
David Heppberger, Wine Consultant, Buyer Menlo Circus Club
Ellen Landis, Wine Director, Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn, Half Moon Bay, CA
Ken Landis, Chef, Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn, Half Moon Bay, CA
Paul Manchester, Vintage 59 Imports
Ben Narasin, Freelance Food & Wine Writer
Mike Potashnik, PhD, Co-Publisher, International Wine Review
Sid Sall, Wine Director, Great Chefs of Marin
Christopher Sawyer, National Wine Writer, Sommelier: Carneros Bistro at the Lodge at Sonoma
Edgar Vogt, Wine Educator, Wineworks
Walter Vornbrock III, Wine Consultant
Liza Zimmerman, Wine Writer & Educator
Monday, April 20, 2009
George Bursick has been vice president of winemaking at J Vineyards & Winery since May of 2006. The Russian River Valley winery was founded in 1987 by Judy Jordan who originally intended it to be a boutique sparkling wine producer. Since then the winery has expanded beyond its signature J Vintage Brut and other sparklers to become a vigorous and creative producer of cool-climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and other still varietal wines, and Bursick is now leading the charge. Previously, he was executive winemaker at Ferrari-Carano, a position he held for 22 years. In his spare time, Bursick is a musician: since 1992, he has played in the winemaker rock group Private Reserve.
Check back soon for a link to the full article once it's available on-line at Wine Enthusiast
Monday, March 9, 2009
Steve Heimoff, in his blog report on the World Of Pinot Noir event in Shell Beach, CA this past weekend, called J Vineyards' Pinot Noirs "beautiful."
J's winemaker George Bursick had the good fortune to discuss with Steve the thoughtful Pinot Noir winemaking techniques that he and owner Judy Jordan have put in place, including use of indigenous and rare yeast strains, specific lot fermenter punch down regimes, slow and extended fermentations, gravity flow processing, French Burgundian cooper impression on different wine lots, as well a thoughtful “batonage” during aging.
You can read Steve's full report on WOPN at:
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
J’s Executive Chef Mark Caldwell opened the February 25th episode of KGO-TV’s “View from the Bay” with a cooking demo of his famous Tiger Prawns with Blood Orange Cream Sauce and Angel Hair Pasta dish, which pairs with J’s recently released 2008 Vin Gris and Brut Rosé wines. As Mark unveiled the 2008 Vin Gris, he also offered the public debut of J’s re-designed varietal wine packaging. To see the segment and Mark’s recipe, click here or paste this link into your browser:
Monday, February 23, 2009
Imbibe Magazine Publisher Karen Foley recommended J’s Cuvée 20 Non-Vintage Brut for Valentine’s Day on the nationally syndicated Better TV television show. The wine was noted for being an “excellent value” for quality that is “extremely high.”
Better TV is produced by Meredith Corporation (publishers of Better Homes & Gardens) and airs on Fox affiliates. The segment, which originally aired February 12th on, can be seen by clicking here or by pasting the link below into your web browser:
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Recently, a Facebook friend of J sent us this request: "We received our club shipment this week and can't wait to try to the Vin Gris. I was thinking of surprising my husband with a homemade dinner on V-day and opening the bottle. Do you have any food pairing suggestions? Thank so much."
J's Executive Chef Mark Caldwell suggests a nice soft goat cheese pairs well with our Vin Gris. He also offered up this recipe for Tiger Prawns with Blood Orange Cream Sauce from our Bubble Room menu archives. He comments that "the blood orange sauce in the recipe mirrors the finish on the Vin Gris, and the Vin Gris tartness cuts through the cream and is a nice accent for the prawns."
You can download a PDF of the recipe by clicking here or paste the link below into your web browser:
Enjoy Valentine's Day with a glass of J!
Friday, January 30, 2009
The Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Gaiter asked J's own Judy Jordan why some champagnes and sparkling wines have more bubbles than others and whether the number of bubbles signifies quality. Judy explained how "the bubble size and number of bubbles can be directly proportional to the amount of tirage time, in other words, the amount of time the wine ages on yeast. At J Vineyards and Winery, we age our sparkling wines for a minimum of four years on the yeast... The older, creamier and more viscous sparkling wine has less room for bigger bubbles to form. As a result, more and more small bubbles appear to release the effervescence present inside the wine. The lovely visual for our taster of this aged sparkling wine is a more delicate and bountiful flow of beautiful small bubbles which look like elegant beads in a glass."
You can read the full article by clicking here or pasting the link below into your web browser:
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
J Vineyards & Winery and winery's 2000 Vintage Brut was listed by ForbesLife editor Eric Arnold and StarChefs.com Wine and Spirits Editor Jim Clarke as one of their favorite sparkling wines to kick start 2009. Clarke, who is also the wine director at the New York restaurant Megu Downtown, noted that with J's sparkling wines, "you get that Champagne-like weight with the brioche character, and really ripe fruits", and went on to say that J's 2000 Vintage Brut will continue to gain complexity in the coming years.
You can read the full article by clicking here or pasting the link below into your web browser:
Thursday, January 15, 2009
J Vineyards & Winery has started the new year right! The Connoisseurs' Guide To California Wines just gave J's 2007 Pinot Gris Russian River Valley 91 points, calling it "Among the deeper and more substantial Pinot Gris bottlings to be had...long on blossomy fruit with touches of sweet limes merging with elements of nectarine, peach and subtle shadings of wet stones."
You can read the review by clicking here or paste the link below into your web browser:
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
This weekend's Wall Street Journal featured J Cuvée 20 Brut as a great sparkling wine to celebrate the upcoming inaugural at home. Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher think J Cuvée 20 "hits all of the right notes, with good fruit, toast and some almonds, especially in the long finish. Classy wine. Would age well."
You can read the review and watch their video podcast by clicking here or paste the link below into your web browser: