Watching the Wine Children Grow Up at J. Cage Cellars
Read Part 6 of Starting J. Cage Cellars – A Family Winery Series
Back at the end of September, we finished barreling our wines so they can mature and rest comfortably. Donna and I then headed back to Denver. A Halloween party invitation and the wonderful Pinot on the River event in Healdsburg were enough excuse to bolt from Denver for a long weekend back in Sonoma to taste our three J. Cage Cellars wines.
I recall watching Conch and Whitney when they were young kids participating in sporting events and wondering if they might develop into world-class athletes. Of course nearly every parent does when their child kicks that first soccer goal or in our case glided down the ski racing slopes of Breckenridge. I was sure Conch was destined for the PGA when he got a hole-in-one at age 13…. But alas… it didn’t happen. A parent can dream…and probably should.
The wines that we struggled so hard to get right are, like those soccer kids, growing up and it was a pleasure to taste them after a month of maturity. Conch samples barrels almost weekly and keeps me apprised. The whites are nice and crisp and should be ready for the summer patio season. But it’s the five barrels of Pinot Noir that I’m emotionally focused upon.
Conch getting J. Cage Pinot Samples
Early on in the weekend, Conch pulled samples of all the wines. Each barrel was tasted separately for its own unique characteristics and to make sure all was right. A lot can still go wrong. While we were pleased, we made some adjustments to the white wines to lower the acidity, still keeping them crisp, refreshing and food friendly. All five barrels of Pinot Noir were rockin’ along just fine.
On our last day, Conch and I returned to the winery to blend samples from all five Pinot barrels. We have gently used French oak barrels from three different coopers. Though not enough time has passed for the oak to fully impact the wines, each barrel already had its own personality. We blended the barrels into two sample bottles and headed home. They sat in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to meld a bit.
It was a beautiful Sonoma fall night and the house filled with a few guests. As the evening rolled along I poured the bottles into a decanter then into a glass. Alone, out to the backyard I strolled to taste and contemplate. As I sat around the fire pit, I took a deep sniff and was pleasantly surprised at the complexity of the nose, lots of dark cherry, raspberry and spice aromas. Then for the taste…It was young, bright and delicious. The blend was better than any of the single barrels. Like a child with promise, the wine will grow up and the French oak still needs to add the background notes to the concerto.
At that moment a flood of thoughts came forth. First was the scene in the movie Bottle Shock when Gustavo Brambilia proudly shared his wine with Mr. Garcia on the front porch of the small home while classical music played from the ’60’s era turntable. The second was of times Conch and Whitney excelled in their sports of choice and I wondered if they were future athletes.
Gustavo Brambila in Bottle Shock
Enjoying our 2014 J. Cage Cellars, Nunes Vineyard Pinot Noir, was like watching a child make that first goal…such promise…such excitement…but still a long way to go. When we contracted for our Pinot grapes with Fred and Wendy Nunes, Fred said, “Roger, I’ll deliver your perfect hand selected grapes…Your job is not to screw them up.”’ Actually Fred was a bit more colorful in his verb choice. Fred did his job and it looks like we are doing ours. I can’t wait to show off the kids. But we will both have to wait. Patience Grasshopper.