Tasting Notes: Justin Vineyards & Winery

Tasting Notes: Justin Vineyards & Winery

Posted on Nov, 07. 2010 by

Categories: Events, Wine

If you made it out on Wednesday, you probably don’t need me to tell you what a fun lineup it turned out to be. Like I said before, Justin has been a Cali favorite of mine for some time, ever since I tried (and was enamored with) their flagship blend, Isosceles – speaking of which, Laura brought us a little treat in addition to the 5 we were originally featuring: Isosceles. A great surprise!

My overall take on the Justin wines is that they are more refined and classically styled than I remember them being. Maybe my palate has evolved (it’s been a few years since I’ve gotten into their new releases), maybe they’re continuing to hone their craft, or maybe it’s a bit of both. Either way, these are world-class wines, from the well-made, affordable estate wines to the inspired blends. I’ll give you a run-down on them all, but for me (and many others), the Justification was the wine of the night. Please let us know if you’d like to place an order as soon as possible (inventory is not terribly deep on some of these). Onward…

2009 Justin Sauvignon Blanc:
Understated Sauv Blanc, not overly intense or in your face; it also stays away from the oft-annoying grapefruit character that so many inexpensive Cali SB’s seem to be taken over by, acting more like a New Zealand example (more passionfruit). A solid, well-made wine.
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $13.19 • Premier Cru: $13.79 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $17.99
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2009 Justin Chardonnay:
Again, understated and restrained. You can tell that this is made with good fruit, and they haven’t had to do much fussing with it in the tanks. There’s a bit of new oak, but it’s as subtle and integrated as a 1er Cru Chablis. Not nearly as much stoniness as a Chablis, but at this price range, a fine effort.
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $15.39 • Premier Cru: $116.09 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $20.99
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2007 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon:
Very solid for ~$20. Pales in comparison to the red blends that followed, but this has enough structure and strength to last (and get better) with 5 or more years in a cellar. Quality like this would go for $50+ if the label said “Napa” instead of “Paso Robles”. Something to stock up on if you like classically-styled, rugged Cali cab that isn’t cost-prohibitive.
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $19.79 • Premier Cru: $20.69 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $26.99
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2008 Justin Justification:
As I said above, the wine of the night, and the absolute best Cab Franc or Cab Franc blend that I’ve had from this side of the Atlantic in a very, very long time. Franc just seems to something that West Coast winemakers can’t master; maybe it’s because the prominence of Cab Sauv keeps them from even trying? In any case, once in awhile, you’ll come across a gem that makes you wonder why more people can’t get it right. This is inspired work, a brilliant piece of art (in fact, as Laura tried to move on to the Savant, I still had this in my glass, just taking in the aroma, and all I could mutter was “genius…” There’s 65% Cab Franc and 35% Merlot, and it comes across like the offspring of a Merlot-heavy Bordeaux and a classic Chinon or Bourgueil. Bright fruit, sumptuous rich in body and texture, and a precise by subdued acidity profile that makes me think that however perfect this is drinking right now, it’ll be twice as good in 5 or 7 years. The difference though, the reason you know this isn’t from the Loire or the Gironde, is that there’s a distinct vanilla character, obviously from new oak, and this is much of the reason it drinks so well right now, I’d surmise. I’m more excited about this wine than I’ve been for any stateside wine we’ve taste in years…ek.
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $35.19 • Premier Cru: $36.79 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $47.99
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2007 Justin Savant:
The Savant was a big turn after the Justification. This is a bigger wine, heavy with Syrah, and much more opulent and extracted. It also had a more burly, stoic sense about it…as if it was offended at being opened so early. Like the wine before it, I think this has a ton of potential, but unlike that other one, this seems tighter, not wanting to open. Only after a couple hours of being open did it really show its true colors…typical black Syrah fruits, inky blueberry, ripeness, and soft oak…but, I still think it needs time.
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $35.19 • Premier Cru: $36.79 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $47.99
Buy Now!

2007 Justin Isosceles:
As I said above, this was the wine that made Justin stand out for me way back when, and it’s their flagship blend. Like the Savant, though, it deserves more time in the cellar. A rustic Bordeaux-style blend, dusty and rich and deep…very deep. You can just swirl and smell for 20 minutes and it’ll keep showing itself in a different light. A very worthwhile cellar selection, but don’t touch it for at least 5 years…preferably 8 or more.
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $47.30 • Premier Cru: $49.45 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $64.50
Buy Now!

Thanks to Laura Taffe Balderelli from SF Wine Exchange for bringing us a row of inspired wines, and thanks to everyone who came out. Let us know if you’d like to place an order, and it should be here mid-week.

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