Published on November 20th, 2012 | by Greg0
J Vineyards Vintage Sparkling Wines: ‘Tis The Season
It's Thanksgiving week. Which means turkeys are to be pardoned, cranberries consumed by the bushel, and sweet potatoes must be mashed. And it also means that it's another great time to pop open a bottle of bubbly. Why wait for New Year's Eve- or even Christmas- when you a nice, balanced bottle of champagne or the American equivalent adds both color and flavor to the festivities.
We've been saving this pair up for a special occasion, but a birthday party served as a proper holiday. J Vineyards 2003 Late Disgorged Vintage Brut is certainly among the finest bottles of California sparkling wine that we've had the privilege to try- it's also not very widely available, and is one of the most expensive we've seen. At $90 a bottle, this is not something that we sipped lightly, and the first impressions weren't actually quite as expected. Bubbles were slow and the nose wasn't the familiar brightness, but as a rose blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, we were ready for a bit of anything on the palate. And what we found was character, far more subtle and worth focus.
Both the '03 and the other J Brut that we mention below are from the Russian River Valley, and anyone who is familiar with New World champagnes will appreciate the classy texture on them both. We served them alone, chilled, but not as cold as your average sparkler might come, and later had some oysters and a bit of cheese to pair. And though neither of them were super-sweet or super-dry, the '03 had an almost bready character that tilted towards but didn't quite become the butteriness that is associated with some chardonnay.
We also tried the J Vineyards 2005 Vintage Brut, a heavier and more direct younger sibling. There was a clear connection, in fact, not least since the blend was basically the same- and the yeast here was more present but without some of the sugars that made for toastiness. Instead, it's a little brighter, a bit more punch and a more immediately appealing nose. The winemakers note the "honeysuckle, pear, and citrus", all of which are certainly applicable. And while the '03 might be somewhat wiser, the lower-priced ($50) 2005 won over the crowd here, winning slightly higher marks among those who found it "addictive", "flexible", and perfect for a widely varied holiday meal. Either way, you're getting lovely bottling and a gift worth sipping.