We're Sipping J Vineyards’ Sparkling Cuvées at Home
Everyone needs a versatile sparkling wine on hand to enjoy with home-cooked meals and to uncork for impromptu entertaining. J Vineyards & Winery is one of Sonoma’s top sparkling and varietal wine producers whose cuvées are made in the traditional method. The six vineyards are all located in the Russian River Valley, a cool climate setting that delivers wines of exceptional, fresh fruit crispness and balanced acidity.
Underscoring the popularity of these wines for casual entertaining, J Vineyards & Winery’s tasting room near Healdsburg offers special culinary experiences. A popular one is the J Bubble Room, a gastronomical experience led by Executive Chef Carl Shelton and Winemaker Nicole Hitchcock, which includes both sparkling and varietal wines. Chef Shelton shared, “Many of our visitors come to taste the sparkling wines and leave with the Pinot Noir and Chardonnays.”
What we tasted:
J Cuvée 20 Classic Brut. The winery’s twentieth anniversary is a blend of 51% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 9% Pinot Meunier with aging on lees to add complexity. It delivers notes of toasted almond and brioche toast, baked apple, white peach and Meyer lemon. Pair with creamy brie, seared cod, poached lobster, grouper and truffle pasta. SRP: $38
J Vineyards & Winery Brut Rosé gets its soft salmon pink color and ripe red cherry and strawberry aromas and flavors from Pinot Noir. The blending of 32 percent Chardonnay into this wine adds notes of slivered almond, kaffir, jasmine and lemon meringue. We recently enjoyed our J Rosé with a harissa spiced shrimp over rice. SRP: $45
Both wines are available nationwide through many retail outlets, and you can order direct from the winery. www.jwine.com
J Vineyards & Winery Executive Chef Carl Shelton joined us on The Connected Table Sips to share pairing tips. Listen here (link) or click below:
We’re heartsick over the devastating fires that are still burning in Napa and Sonoma counties and southern California. So many industry friends have been impacted, and we’re still learning which wineries have been destroyed. I was just in Calistoga a few weeks ago celebrating at The Harvest Table with the local vintners. Despite the surprise heat wave, everyone was in a happy mood. And now this. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone. If you want to send help for evacuees, Public Relations Pro Kimberly Charles has set up a GoFundMe Page. Here are the link and message from Kimberly:
Napa and Sonoma counties in Northern California are undergoing an unprecedented series of fires, over 60 recorded in the last 48 hours. One of California’s oldest wineries perished last night and several others have been completely lost. The wine community is one of the most giving, generous groups who give to charity constantly, now it’s our turn to help. We have worked with wineries in California closely for over 30 years and right now have identified a group of shelters in who are accepting evacuees. They need hard goods, not money -cots, sleeping bags, non perishable foods, hygienic items, kids’ pyjamas. We are raising money to buy these items and drive them up this week to the distribution center at Mentor Me at the Cavanagh Rec Center which is sheltering 500 evacuees currently. They are networked with 10 other shelters to distribute goods. We plan on raising funds, buying goods and delivering them right away this week. Link: https://www.gofundme.com/fire-relief-napa-sonoma-counties
And, if your emotions are as raw as ours from all the bad news, we encourage you to read Lettie Teague‘s October 5th Wall Street Journal article: “How Wine Sustains Us Through Tragedy and Helps Us Reclaim Joy.” Read here: link.
It had been awhile since either of had spent much time in Sonoma Valley, so we felt lucky to add three nights for a visit following our stay at Meadowood in St. Helena for the Professional Wine Writers Symposium. Where Napa feels gentrified and sophisticated, Sonoma feels bucolic and achaten-suisse.com laid back. It’s like comparing cashmere to fleece; they both feel great and will keep you warm outside, and you want both for different reasons.
The first two nights were spent at Jordan Winery in Alexander Valley tasting wines, exploring the expansive estate and enjoying a quiet dinner with Lisa Mattson and her husband, Damon, at BarnDiva in nearby Healdsburg. Lisa was a guest on The Connected Table LIVE! to talk about her book, “The Exes in My Glass.” We met proprietor John Jordan whom we learned has a thing for “Star Wars” movies. Jordan specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and does both well.
Another night took us to The Shed Cafe, a restaurant located in a cookware shop and bakery. Most of the food is locally sourced within 10 miles of Healdsburg. We suggest checking out the four- course tasting menu for $58 with a $25 wine pairing option. Address: 25 North Street, Healdsburg. 707-431-7433 www.healdsburgshed.com
Our final night was spent at Valette whose chef-owner, Dustin Valette visited with us on The Connected Table LIVE March 8th. Dustin began his restaurant career at the age of thirteen washing dishes at Catelli’s in his hometown of Geyserville. A Culinary Institute of America grad, he worked at several top restaurants to fine tune his skills, most recently spending six years as Executive Chef of Dry Creek Kitchen, a Charlie Palmer restaurant in downtown Healdsburg. With his brother and fellow restaurant worker, Aaron Garzini, Dustin hatched a plan to open Valette in a building which housed his great grandfather’s bakery. The two brothers opened Valette in 2015 spotlighting their deep passion and dedication to Sonoma Country and its food and wine purveyors and producers.
The restaurant is hopping! We dined there the night of the “Oscars.” David noshed on Dustin’s house made charcuterie and Coriander Crusted Liberty Duck Breast with tart pickled cherries and dick + foie grad torchon. Little Miss Healthy Me enjoyed a vegetarian “beet Wellington” described on the menu as Tangerine Infused Beets en Papillote with preserved lemon, farro risotto, baby carrots and Laura Chenel goat cheese and Hawaiian Ahi Poke.
Give This Gal a Forklift!
Katie Madigan, is winemaker at St. Francis Winery. Like many women winemakers I’ve interviewed, Katie started out planning on another career path not realizing the great opportunities for women in wine. She was a chemistry major intent on going into the pharma business. She took an internship as a lab technician at St. Francis in 2003 to pass the time and never left.
Now 14 years later Katie is in charge of making St. Francis’s award winning wines. She says she’s most proud of making great wines widely available for everyone to enjoy. I asked Katie for career tips for aspiring women winemakers. She says: 1. get your experience working in the cellar, 2. learn to run a pump and forklift 3. be ready to get your hands dirty 4. be confident on your palate and 5. be very patient. Careers in wine, like the wine itself, can take time to mature.
While we did not make it to St. Francis Winery in Santa Rosa, we are very familiar with the wines. David has written about St. Francis Winery for Tasting Panel Magazine, and many years ago my former PR firm, M Young Communications, produced St, Francis’s Big Red chef events in New York and Los Angeles. You can arrange a visit, and we hope to next trip. www.stfranciswine.com
Here is our show with Chef Dustin Valette and Winemaker Katie Madigan on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App.
Recently we met with Pat Henderson, Chief Winemaker at Kenwood Vineyards in Sonoma to taste through some vintages of the Artist Series, the winery’s portfolio of carefully blended Cabernet Sauvignon produced from the very best vineyards in Sonoma County. Every picture tells a story as does the vintage in the bottle. Pat shared anecdotes and aging information with equal finesse as we sipped.
A veteran of more than 30 vintages, Pat worked at five wineries including a summer with Kenwood Vineyards as enologist in 1983. After earning his degree in viticulture and enology, he worked in both the Napa and Sonoma valleys before taking his first position as head winemaker in Washington State. Pat rejoined the Kenwood team in 2003 where under the mentorship of Mike Lee, the original Kenwood winemaker, he learned the art of small-lot winemaking. In 2015 Pat became chief winemaker.
Fourth generation owner and winemaker Ted Seghesio will be our guest April 29th on on the Connected Table LIVE! 2pm ET www.W4cy.com and iHeart.com.
Founded in 1895, Seghesio Family Vineyards is one of Sonoma County’s most enduring legacies. Built from years of growing grapes for making bulk wines to be finished by others, Seghesio only started labeling wine under their own name with the 1983 vintage. Yet, with a family history of grape and wine production in California that goes back to the 1800s, Seghesio is one of the few names in American wine that can honestly say they’ve “seen it all.”
Known for making some of the world’s best Zinfandels and a smattering of small production wines made from mostly Italian varietals such as Barbera, Sangiovese, and Arneis, Seghesio has over 300 acres of vineyards in three of Sonoma’s most prized growing regions, The Alexandar, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys.
We recently dined with Ted at Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan to celebrate Seghesio’s 120th anniversary. We were particularly intrigued with the Seghesio 2011 Venom, a 100% Sangiovese from Rattlesnake Mountain in the Alexander Valley. Here’s the full menu:
Meet the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality Wednesdays 2pm ET on The Connected Table LIVE! W4CY. Listen to all podcasts on iHeart anytime at this link: