Recently tasted 5 wines that I would recommend from J Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma. These include: Pinot Noir Russian River Nicole's Vineyard 2008 (Highly Recommended), Pinot Gris California 2009, Chardonnay Russian River Valley2009 (Highly Recommended), Sparkling Cuvee 20 nv, Brut Rose nv (Highly Recommended).
Each of these wines demonstrated the power and elegance that can be had from quality fruit and attention to winemaking that has been the core of what goes on at J, and has since the earliest days of the winery in the mid-80's.
I first visited J in 1999, and was quite impressed by the attention to detail that was being given to the whole "experience" in visiting the winery tasting center, located just south of Healdsburg in Sonoma County. Food and wine pairings were basically the only way to taste the wines and for a reasonable charge you were enticed by the way the tasty preparation were matched carefully with these delicate wines - primarily known for the sparklers at the time. On a return visit in 2009, I was pleased to see that the attention to detail was even more acute, the food and wine pairings were as well crafted and nuanced as ever, and the wine selection was better than ever with a broader range of wines, especially varietal selections focusing on vineyards from the surrounding Russian River Valley appellation.
I have just had the opportunity to revisit the wines in current vintage offering and my thoughts remain that the progression of the winery and their continued focus on quality and defining of the Russian River Valley appellation as THE go-to Pinot Noir, Grigio and Chardonnay appellation in California, all while making some of the best sparkling wines outside of Champagne.
Here are my thoughts on the wines:
J VINEYARDS & WINERY PINOT NOIR RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY NICOLE'S VINEYARD 2008
Great cranberry/cherry color; wonderful aromatics of intense berry and cinnamon and an underlying earthiness that adds depth; a smooth style on the palate, bit tight still but ample fruit concentration, some spice and crunch (acidity) through the finish; touch of grip on the finish which is med-long and consistent with soft fruit flavors. Overall, this wine is not for those looking for a monster Pinot Noir - this is powerfully elegant wine that will please the true Pinot-phile. Listed at $50/750ml on the winery web-site.
J VINEYARDS & WINERY CHARDONNAY RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY 2009
Smokey vanilla aromas on the nose; dry, acid driven style on the palate with more vanilla and ripe apples flavors being the game; med-long, dry finish that is classic cooler-climate style chardonnay. Quite good as I like the more restrained style chardonnay, rather than over oaked, over flavored, over-everything style. Listed at $28/750ml on the winery web-site.
J VINEYARDS & WINERY BRUT ROSE nv
Delicate pink color; fresh strawberry aromas with subtle spicy / yeasty notes; beautifully delicate on the palate with fresh berry flavors; a fine, subtly soft mousse through the finish. Excellent style here, this wine is balanced and delicious - a classically drinking rose at a great price. Listed at $28/750ml on the winery web-site.
I am also fond of the J V&W SPARKLING CUVEE 20 - a non-vintage wine that is a bit tight on the palate, but is definitely drinkable, especially with east coast oysters. As well as the J V&W PINOT GRIS CALIFORNIA 2010, which accounts for approximately 50% of the overall varietal wine production at the winery. J V&W is positioning themselves as being the go-to-leader in the (domestic) Pinot Gris category, and this wine is no joke. Rich in flavor, easy on the palate - it easily competes with anything from the domestic market for quality, and can go toe-to-toe with most Italian quality PG's. Great value that retails for about $15.