Sonoma Vintners Visit The London West Hollywood, California
J Winemaker Melissa Stackhouse
The Sonoma Vintners Association was having a wine tasting event at The London West Hollywood recently. A good wine showcases a story. While tasting at The London, I was fortunate to experience superb storytellers and wines that drew me in completely. I spoke with some of the organizers, wine makers, and marketers and am delighted to share their profound experience and passion with you.
Major Sonoma wineries such as the exceptional J Vineyards and Winery were represented at the event as well. Judy Jordan, daughter of Tom Jordan (the founder of great California wines and Jordan Winery), created her own successful brand with J Vineyards and Winery. They have a unique range of wines and exceptional sparklings.
This day they brought their Sparkling Rose, which is a masterpiece. The lushness of this sparkling lingers on the tongue and has balance and elegance combined. To know a good sparkling wine and or Champagne is its tiny bubbles. J Rose is a standout, it is engaging, lively with fresh fruit notes and a pleasurable finish that lingers.
J Pinot Noir is another winning wine under J winemaker Melissa Stackhouse. This bountiful wine has layers of texture with a rustic quality that is quite fun to drink. The intensity of fig, dark cherries, dark plum and cocoa emerge on your palette. J Pinot Noir can be sipped with a variety of culinary selections, a little chocolate compliments the wines rich character and it is perfect to drink on its own.
J Chardonnay makes your mouth water with sensual flavors of lemon-peel and shortbread. The creaminess and flavors are inviting. J also makes a J Pear Liqueur that will knock your socks off. The pure pear essence, vanilla aromas and butterscotch silkiness drape your palette eloquently. It has cognac tenacity with a feminine touch. Melissa is an exceptional artisan and shares insight into all things J!
NJ: Speak a little bit as a winemaker as to how it is when you are creating a wine.
MS: For me winemaking has always been incredibly collaborative, so it’s not just about one person, it’s about many people coming together to make a product. That means the vineyard crew, the winemaking team, sales and marketing and PR, bringing it all together. As far as winemaking goes I’m more hands-off. We really try to make sure the fruit is rock solid when we box the wine.
NJ: Let’s hear a little bit about the grapes that you’re growing and how particular you have to be to create the wines that you produce.
MS: I think if there’s any time to micromanage my day it’s in the vineyards and you also need to have a couple plans. When harvest unfolds you never really know what you’re going to get, so we usually go in with a plan A, and that’s if everything works out, and then a plan B, and a plan C if the weather turns extreme and so we try to just be present in the vineyard, be out there and micromanage it up front and we hopefully can bring solid fruit in.
J Nicole's Vineyard
NJ: Share a little bit about your wines. Especially about your Pinot Noir, about your sparkling Rose, which is wonderful, and your J Pear after dinner drink which is superb.
MS: The J Brut Rose sparkling wine is about 65% Pinot Noir and the balance is mostly Chardonnay a little bit of Meunier as well. We’ve just put it in a new package; it’s a sexy little package - clear glass with a swoopy J on the front. It’s a sexy wine, a brilliant, nice pink color. It’s a wine that’s really vivid in strawberry, grapefruit, very crisp, very light, and I think a perfect summer wine.
NJ: You have little bubbles, and that’s one thing when you’re looking for a good champagne or sparkling, you want little bubbles bubbling up to the top and that is what J does.
MS: Right, it’s got what we call formability. It’s got little bubbles and that’s a good thing and it’s not too fruity and really not too sweet either. And that’s the thing with wine; it can be fruit forward without being sweet. And the Pinot Noir is, for me mostly plum and cherry, a little bit of tobacco, just a kiss of rustic-ness. I love Pinot Noir and have been making it for many many years.
NJ: It’s very popular right now too and I think California Pinot Noir has more substance than when you think of a light Pinot Noir of days gone by.
MS: Yeah, especially in the Russian River Valley- that Pinot Noir is a little more brooding, it’s darker fruit - it’s more of a Cabernet wine drinker’s Pinot.
NJ: What else would you say regarding J Vineyards and the wines that you produce and being a woman owned vineyard and a woman winemaker? That also is an exceptional thing.
Judy Jordan, J Founder & President
MS: Well, Judy’s a cool lady. She has owned the winery for 25 years, which is amazing to me. She founded the brand when she was 25 years old and I think back to when I was 25 years old and I can’t imagine being mature enough to do that. She’s a neat lady and I feel very proud to make wine for her.
J Vineyards & Winery