The town of Healdsburg, in Sonoma County, California, is home to J Vineyards & Winery. The winery was founded by Judy Jordan in 1986. While they initially focused on the production of sparkling wines, they eventually branched out into using varietals agreeable to Russian River Valley, namely, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris.
The 2009 J Vineyards & Winery Pinot Noir Russian River Valley was 100% Pinot Noir. The wine was aged in French oak barrels (30% new, 70% old) for 14 months, and spent an additional 9 months in the bottle, prior to release. The label listed ABV was 14.4%. There were 12,000 cases of this vintage produced.
I was in a local beverage store, looking for a specific Russian River Valley Pinot Noir I had previously tasted. It was nowhere to be found. I glanced down and noticed the J Vineyards Pinot Noir. Hmmm…this would be a great wine to compare against the one I couldn’t find.
And with that, I made my first purchase of a J Vineyards wine.
Duckhorn Vineyards is based in the town of Saint Helena in the Napa Valley region of California. In addition to wines produced under their flagship Duckhorn label, their portfolio also includes wines produced under their Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration, and Decoy labels.
The 2010 Duckhorn Vineyards Decoy Pinot Noir Sonoma County was 100% Pinot Noir. It was aged in French oak barrels (90% second vintage, 10% new) for 6 months. The wine was produced with grapes from 10 different vineyards. The label listed ABV was 14.5%.
In April of this year, I had the good fortune to attend a wine tasting dinner for Duckhorn Vineyards at Salt Creek Grille in Rumson, NJ. The wine selection that evening was interesting, but it did not include anything from the Decoy lineup. I came across the 2010 Decoy Pinot Noir in a local beverage store.
I’ve come to like many Duckhorn wines. I was hoping to add the Decoy Pinot Noir to the list.
Viña Montes is one of the largest and most well-known wineries in Chile. The winery produces a vast number of products utilizing many varietals, including Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Syrah, to name a few. The winery is based in the Apalta region in Colchagua Valley in Chile.
The 2008 Montes Alpha Pinot Noir was 100% Pinot Noir. 60% of the wine was aged in French oak (80% old, 20% new) for 12 months. The remaining 40% was not oak aged. The grapes for this wine were sourced from Casablanca Valley. The label listed ABV was 14%.
I had previously tasted, enjoyed, and commented on the winery’s Purple Angel Carmenere product. When I came across their Pinot Noir in a local discount beverage store, I decided to give it a try.
Given the great experience with Purple Angel, expectations were fairly high.
– Taken by me at a local tavern in June 2012.
On the 28th of June 2012, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in New York City hosted a winemaker dinner for Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars. Attending from the wineries were David Duncan, President and CEO, and Daniel Baron, the head winemaker. The dinner was part of the Silver Oak Tower Tour 2012, celebrating 40 years of Cabernet Sauvignon production by Silver Oak.
Silver Oak produces two Cabernet Sauvignons. One is produced with grapes harvested from Napa Valley, while the other uses grapes from Alexander Valley. The Duncan family, Silver Oak’s owners, established Twomey in 1999 when they acquired the Soda Canyon Ranch in Napa Valley. Twomey Cellars produces a Merlot, four types of Pinot Noir, and a Sauvignon Blanc.
I found out about the wine dinner by way of my neighbors, who asked if there would be interest in attending. Let’s see…Del Frisco’s, second best steakhouse in New York City, check. Silver Oak, premier producer of Cabernet Sauvignon, check. Great wine and great food with great friends, check. That decision didn’t take very long.
In February of 2012, Restaurant Nicholas hosted a wine dinner featuring 12 different wines from the Burgundy region of France. I had previously not been particularly fond of wines from this area. The dinner at Nicholas changed that.
Domaine Faiveley, founded in 1825, is located in the town of Nuits-Saint-Georges in the Burgundy region of France.
The 2009 Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Lavieres was 100% Pinot Noir. This vintage was aged for 14 to 16 months in French oak barrels (roughly 30% new). The label stated ABV was 13%.
As a 2009, I drank this wine much too early, but it was difficult staring at it on each trip to the cellar and wondering if it was as good as it was at the dinner. I can now definitively state this was a great bottle. And this is one of their lower end wines.
Salt Creek Grille, in Rumson, NJ, hosted a wine dinner featuring Duckhorn Vineyards on the 12th of April, 2012.
When it was founded, 30 years ago, Duckhorn, based in Napa, California, initially focused on Bordeaux varietals, with specific attention on Merlot. Today, the winery produces a wide range of reds, whites, and blends, with grapes sourced not only from Napa, but from neighboring Sonoma Valley as well.
Wine dinners are always interesting events. Each restaurant has their own thoughts on how it should be done, and no two are alike. Many places pour wine freely, while others limit you to an ounce or two (boo). Some establishments change their format from time to time (which can be so annoying when you like their previous format and set your expectations!). The social aspect is also always up for grabs. If you are not with a group, you never know who will be seated near/next to you. I have sat next to novices, who were much more knowledgeable than I. I have sat with novices, who were self-proclaimed experts (but were obviously not). I have sat with experts, who were very willing to educate those around them. I have sat with connoisseurs, who did not care to share their thoughts (but they usually do by the end of the evening!). Essentially, it is a wild card, but the event (read: the wine) is always interesting.
Overall, Salt Creek Grille did a good job with the evening.
Domaine Jacques Prieur, based in Meursault, France, produces red and white wines with grapes sourced from the Burgundy region of France. Gevrey-Chambertin is a village in the Cote-de-Nuits region of Burgundy.
The 2007 Domaine Jacques Prieur Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru is 100% Pinot Noir. The wine was aged in oak (I’m guessing all French!) for an undetermined period of time.
I discovered this bottle in early February at a Burgundy wine dinner hosted by Restaurant Nicholas, in Red Bank, NJ. Pinot Noir has never been a favorite variety of mine, nor have I often chosen France over the U.S., Spain, or Italy.
The wines at this dinner completely changed my mind with respect to both Pinot Noir and French wine. They were among some of the best I have ever tasted. I was fortunate enough to purchase several bottles from different producers after the dinner.
The 2007 Jacques Prieur Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru is one nice bottle of wine.