I had the pleasure of a private tasting hosted by Kristen Barnhisel at the
J. Lohr Wine Center, near Downtown San Jose.
Kristen's resume reads something like an international wine journal.
Along with a B.A. In Italian Literature, Kristen's winemaking and world experience extends to three continents. Adding to that, she is the ASEV President for 2019-2020.
As J. Lohr's white wine maker, Kristen pours two decades of winemaking into her line of wines.
Her winemaking style is stamped on each of her wines—pleasing mid-palate textures, wines that finish with a lasting impression, and fresh aromatics.
J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines is quintessential Californian. Founder Jerry Lohr and team have been crafting wines from California fruit for over 50 years. With a focus on sourcing grapes from noteworthy growing regions, wine enthusiasts can enjoy white wines from the Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands regions in Monterey County. Or tuck into J. Lohr reds, grown and produced in Paso Robles, as well as Carol's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley.
J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines produce and bottle all of their wines. That control in the vineyard leads to quality wines. And with bottles ranging from $10-60, there are options for everyone. For J. Lohr's reds and additional selections, visit their site at: (Link.)
For the Wines
As with any fine wine tasting, J. Lohr Wines offers a dessert wine.
2017 Late Harvest White Riesling, Arroyo Seco.
Kristen cleverly called this “the noble rot dessert wine.”
Meaning, the influence of Botrytis on the graves gives this dessert wine beautiful textures as it softly coats the mouth. Flavors of honey, apricot, stone fruits, and marmalade would pair seamlessly with a cheese board, Medjool dates, or semi-sweet chocolate.
From J. Lohr's select vineyards to its savvy and knowledgeable wine staff,
the end results are wines that leave a lasting impression.
With a tasting room in San Jose, and one in Paso Robles,
you're bound to find an opportunity to taste J. Lohr Wines.
Here's to the wines that start & finish well.
Looking for Wine Beyond the Tasting Room? Read on...
The Annual Silicon Valley Wine Auction offered a collage of wines from the region.
Winemakers from Corralitos to the Peninsula gathered to pour their wines.
All the wines were made with grapes sourced from the Santa Cruz Mountain AVA.
Enjoy the tour!
Thank you, Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Growers Assoc., for the invitation to cover the 2019 SVWA!
I volunteered for the Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association (Link) for almost four years.
During that time, I cut my teeth on SCM varietals.
These local wines became the foundation for my wine palate.
Without meaning to, I often compare and contrast the wines from other regions to my local wines.
Some SCM wines are smooth, some silky, others light, others hearty.
Producing wines that are tannic, to raw, to elegant in palate, the region is a wine playground
within reach of the beach and the nation's tech capital.
A toast to your collage of wines!
Looking for wines in Monterey County? Read on...
Sunday, June 23, 1-5pm at Equinox Tasting Room, Santa Cruz
Join Nicole Walsh, owner & winemaker of Ser Winery for a Pop-Up Tasting!
Enjoy Wine Flights and Wines by the Glass
Nicole is a Santa Cruz based artisan winemaker “specializing in varietal, vineyard designated,
old world style wines, produced in a natural way...”
Come relax and savor wines made with a fresh, yet experienced approach!
For more on Nicole and her wines at Ser Winery, visit: www.serwinery.com/
Winemakers gathered to pour and chat about their Monterey County wines.
Georis Wine. Greg Freeman, Winemaker
Explore these seductive wines.
The table was busy, the line of tasters was long. And no wonder.
Georis crafts Bordeaux varietal wines with estate grown fruit from the Cachagua Valley
area of the Carmel Valley.
The three pours of the day were:
Albatross Ridge. Garrett Bowlus, Winemaker
Pet Nat is quickly coming back into wine fashion and is an enticing alternative to Champagne.
The lightly, bubbly, fizzy wine is fresh, approachable, and a wine to enjoy on the deck.
Yet the hint of yeast gives it the elegance to serve during the holidays.
2018 Rose' Pinot Noir Petillant Natural a.k.a Pet Nat, : Estate grown, Monterey.
J.Lohr Vineyards and Wines
Valdiguie', a red varietal to add to your repertoire.
2018 Valdiguie', Arroyo Seco Monterey, estate fruit.
Michael of J. Lohr Wines shared that the Valdiguie' grape is a cousin to Gammy,
sharing earthy flavor characteristics..
Bright flavors and good acid on the mid-palate make for an appealing wine with flavors
of fresh pomegranate and hints of flint.
This wine could be the poster-child for the color “garnet-red” in the dictionary,
or for you design people, the next Pantone color of the year.
A Rose' of its own.
Caraccioli Cellars is known for its sparkling wines, but its Rose' was a stand out in the crowd.
2018 Rose' of Pinot Noir Escolle Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Enjoy hints of lemon, pineapple, and soft watermelon.
Dry, with just a hint of sweetness; sunset blush in color
A local Cabernet for your local foods.
2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Grown, Monterey: flavors of dark cherry and
raspberry are balanced with soft oak, along with hints of spice and green pepper.
Ruby in color.
The generous tasting pours gave me a chance to sip this wine and with food.
It's versatile and would pair will with blackened salmon, lamb, or steak.
I. Brand Family Wines
La Marea...True love.
Vince from I. Brand Family Wines was pouring a Cabernet Sauvignon.
But this time, it was their La Marea 2018 Albarino that caught my attention.
With a nod to the mineral and flint often found in Sauvignon Blanc, this white
varietal evoked feelings of the first of Spring, early mornings, fresh grass and leaves.
Thank you, Monterey County Vintners & Growers, for the invitation to cover the 2019 Winemaker's Celebration! For more on these wineries visit montereywines.org/
Chalone Vineyards. Gianni A. Abate, Winemaker
Wines from an intriguing region.
While Chalone Vineyards crafts beautiful Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, their Grenache is just as enticing.
2016 Grenache, Chalone Vineyard, Estate Grown Heritage Vines, Chalone Appellation.
This wine offered hints of salinity that begged to be served along side paella or cioppino.
Shale Canyon. Keith Prader, Winemaker
Coastal-influenced Tempranillo with just the right balance.
2014 Tempranillo, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County.
The Arroyo Seco area is an ideal growing region for Tempranillo.
It offers heat but is close enough to the coast to keep the grapes from getting too hot.
This Tempranillo is tannic, dry, dark, and lightly syrupy (but not jammy or too sweet.) Enjoy cherry, and spice in this medium-body wine.
A Pinot Blanc to remember
2017 'Il Campione' Pinot Blanc, Carmel Valley, estate fruit.
This lightly acidic white wine gives way to soft florals on the palate,
then to a slightly toasted sweetness similar to roasted marshmallows.
Pair with grilled shrimp or dishes with toasted hazelnuts.
Lepe Cellars. Miguel Lepe, Winemaker & Owner
Don't just think dessert wines for dessert
2016 Petite Verdo, San Antonio Valley, Monterey County.
Today I made two new friends.
Miguel's Petite Verdo, along with a dark chocolate, fuggy brownie. The perfect match!
Think out of the box, and try wine with your dessert.
Sometimes dessert wines can be too sweet, or the flavors may compete with a dessert.
So instead, look to dark reds and creamy white wines to pair with chocolate, nuts, fruits, and cheeses.
Pierce Ranch Vineyards. Josh Pierce, Owner & Winemaker
I'll be back for this Cosecheiro blend!
2016 Cosecheiro, San Antonio Valley, Monterey County: a thoughtful blend of Tempranillo, Malbec, Touriga, Petite Verdot, and Souzao.
I'm always intrigued with Josh's Iberian varietals,
and the chance to expand my notions of local wine.
This wine is smooth with soft acidity and back tannins that make it
inviting on its own—or a companion to a meal.
Monterey County Wines have a good thing going.
They are one of my favorite 'go to' regions.
Always offering flavor, consistency, and that something amazing.
Be sure to check out Wine Enthusiast magazine, June 2019 page 59,
for their shout-out to a handful of Monterey Winemakers!
Cheers to your summer wines ventures & tastings!
For a few tips on wine care, visit my feature on Wine Closures...Keeping a Lid on It
Closures. I don't mean the relationship kind.
But the kind that keep the desirable in and the unwanted out in wine.
Closures can seem like such a random idea, but we use closures daily in a host of ways.
Opening and shutting the fridge, the jam jar, a car door, or entering/exiting our places of work.
Wine closures may be low on the list of dinner topics, but key when opening a bottle of wine at the end of the day or when hosting friends. If a wine is not closed or sealed right, it can spoil. After growing the grapes, making the wines, and distributing it to customers, if too much or too little oxygen is allowed in the stored wine, it can make or break what you drink in your glass!
Closures come in a variety of styles: natural cork, compressed cork, synthetic (a.k.a.) plastic cork, and twist tops. Newer to the scene are Plant Based Closures.
Made with sugar cane based polymers, these corks are "easy on the environment, recyclable, and provide a reduced carbon footprint." Best of all, they offer a more predictable closure, giving winemakers the controls to allow more or less oxygen absorption into their bottled wines. This makes for more stable and constant wines, so you can be more confident of your purchase.
A taste is worth a thousand words. Ergo, the Cabernet Experimental Palate Test.
Don J. Huffman, Wine Quality and Education Manager at Vinventions (Link)
lead a WIN Expo session on the affect of closures, oxygen management, and how closures can be tailored to different wine styles and needs.
The tasting included three 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons.
(Bonus tasting: a 5 year old Sauvignon Blanc, which was still fresh and bright!)
What happened? Attendees voted on their favorite wine of the three.
All three wines offered different color, flavor, and aroma profiles!
If your wine comes with a foil wrapper at the top, how do you know what kind of cork closure is used and how to lay your wine?
Closures are one more aspect to consider when looking for that bottle of Syrah or Fiano. While you may not be thinking corks vs. twist tops, every closure allows or blocks a certain
amount of transferable oxygen—which influences the flavor profiles of your wine.
From luxury winemakers to low-cost fast-rotation wines, each wine needs something different.
Just as each wine customer is looking for something different.
Here's to the right closures; so your wine can open up to its full potential and beauty!
For a look at Five Wine Trends for 2019...more
Join me at California Wine