Here’s a quartet of new releases from the iconic Russian River Valley winery, J Vineyards — three pinots and one sparkler.
NV J Vineyards Brut Rose (2019) – We’ve seen this sparkler a few times over the years, and the experience feels quite familiar in comparison at least to 2018. Boldly creamy with notes of almond dominating a somewhat restrained strawberry character, the wine becomes increasingly tart as it develops on the tongue, finishing with a bracing squeeze of lemon and orange peel on the denouement. B+ / $45
2016 J Vineyards Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – This non-vineyard designate wine doesn’t initially impress, with a heavily extracted, almost pruny note of stewed fruits. Things settle down in the glass with time, but it never wholly coalesces, culminating in a wine that feels overcooked and off-target. C / $30
2016 J Vineyards Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Strata – “Named for the layers of soil found in geology, representing a key element that imparts a unique terroir in our wines.” A sultry expression of pinot, dense with notes of graphite, smoked meats, and dried spices, this lacks the exuberance of the typical Russian River pinot, finding instead restraint where extracted fruit is otherwise expected. Ideal with a hearty meal (vs. solo sipping). A- / $55
2016 J Vineyards Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Canfield Vineyard – Aggressive notes of cola and toasted spices lead the way on this hearty wine, with cherries and a surprising strawberry sweetness. As the finish builds, so do notes of coffee, chocolate, and more cola, giving the wine a distinctly savory texture, with a slight edge of black pepper and some juicy blackberry evident. Worth exploring in depth. A- / $55