Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wednesday's Wines: J Vineyards & Winery Chardonnay and Parker Station Pinot Noir

Holidays are usually filled with family, food and wine and this past week was no exception. A few bottles of whiskey also saw their demise (though I didn't even have even a dram). It was fun having my family in town, even for only just a few days. We drank well and ate well; Bison prime rib roast, roasted pheasant and applewood-smoked ham all found their way on to the dinner table.

Interestingly, it just so happened that all of the wine we opened came from California. We opened a few hard-to-find small production wines: we finished off the remaining bottles of Cameron Hughes Private Selection (notes coming) and had a selection of Zinfandels from Scherrer. However, some widely available Chardonnay and Pinot noir found their way in to our glasses, too.

J Vineyards 2013 Chardonnay
J Vineyards & Winery 2013 Chardonnay (14.3% abv. Sample $28)

This Chardonnay was opened while we waited for the bison rib roast to cook. 2013 was a year of abundance in northern California. The growing conditions were ideal and a lot of high-quality fruit was grown. This Chardonnay hails from the Russian River Valley AVA in Sonoma County. Harvest started in August (yes, that is early) for the grapes in this bottle. This entry-level J Chardonnay is medium yellow in color. Aromas of ripe pears and peaches waft up from the glass. The barrel ageing and malolactic fermentation so common in California Chardonnays became more pronounced on the palate as toasted marshmallows, spiced pears and dried pineapple flavors were complemented by a silky creaminess. This is a very nice Chardonnay that is not overdone and that lovers of the richer California-style Chardonnay will enjoy.

Parker Station 2014 Pinot Noir
Parker Station 2014 Pinot Noir (13.8% abv. Sample $15)

I was quite surprised with this Pinot noir from Fess Parker Winery that is a blend of grapes from California's Central Coast (Monterey County, Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County). Finding a high quality Pinot noir below $25 is not an easy task, yet this is textbook Pinot noir. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't Pulitzer Prize worthy, but it has a beginning, middle and end along with genuine Pinot noir varietal character that is often lost in less expensive Pinots. Some really good aromas of cherry, strawberry, earth, forest floor, cinnamon and vanilla can be detected. Cranberry and fruit punch flavors come across in the mouth. It went down easy and would surely be a crowd-pleasing wine at parties or with dinner. For the price, this is hard to beat in the California Pinot noir realm.

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