Month: January 2019

Briscoe Bites Reviews: J. Cage Cellars 2017 La Cruz Vineyard Chardonnay

Originally Posted on Briscoe Bites – Booze, Baking, Big Bites and More!

By Stacy Briscoe

When it comes to modern California Chardonnay, it seems more grapegrowers are focused in on purposeful planting, winemakers taking a more “hands-off” approach in the winery. Thus the nuances of the actual fruit are able to come forward, unmasked by excessive ML or NFO aging. Tasting the J. Cage Cellars 2016 Schmidt Home Vineyard is one such Chardonnay that piqued my interest into the current California expressions of the grape. So when owner Roger Beery asked if I’d like to taste his most recent release, my answer was an enthusiastic “yes please!”

 

About the Wine: The J. Cage Cellars 2017 La Cruz Vineyard Chardonnay is made from 100% Clone 4 Chardonnay grapes harvested from the La Cruz Vineyard, located in the Sonoma Coast AVA in Sonoma, California. The vineyard is owned by the Keller family, also known for their eponymous winery Keller Estate, located in Petaluma, California. The vineyard is located 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean, nestled in the eastern corner of the Petaluma Gap. Which means, I believe, that this wine can now claim the newly appointed Petaluma Gap AVA.

The wine was aged in 100% French oak barrels (20% new) and underwent regular hand-stirring
of the lees during fermentation. The Chardonnay did undergo secondary, malolactic fermentation. I will re-quote Beery’s thoughts on ML here:

“ML has its place to improve mouth-feel, add complexity and round off sharp edges…but too much of a good thing…is too much.”

Indeed.

14% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the J. Cage Cellars 2017 La Cruz Vineyard Chardonnay to find aromas of apples, peaches, and the scent of warm dewy grass on a summer morning. This Chardonnay presents a near clear Champagne hue on the pour, settling into the glass with a delicate pale, but luminescent, straw color. Note: this wine is immediately aromatic.

Initial aromas are of pear, apple, persimmon, daisies, dew, and just the slightest hint of lactic acid. Swirl, and allow the floral aromas to become alive: daisies, chamomile, baby’s breath. And still, there is that over-arching scent of pomme and stone fruits.

The palate of the J. Cage Cellars 2017 La Cruz Vineyard Chardonnay is soft, thin, with working acidic and textural components that add depth. It is light to medium bodied, with just a gentle cotton-like coat on the tongue. The finish is pleasantly warm. Dominant flavors are of soft nuts (like raw cashews or maybe pinenuts), chamomile, pear, under-ripe persimmons, a hint of white nectarine, a back-breath of damp, warm grass.

Food Pairing: I paired the J. Cage Cellars 2017 La Cruz Vineyard Chardonnay with a grilled chicken breast alongside roasted butternut squash and brussel sprouts, garnished with craisins and salted pistachio nuts. Between the sweetness of the squash, the bitterness of the sprouts, and gameyness of the bird, the meal brought out a kind of earthy component to the wine, highlighting the florals but also showcasing a bit of minerality that wasn’t present when tasting the wine on its own. Meanwhile, the soft, textural mouthfeel paired perfectly with the overall heartiness and harvest warmth of the dish.

More Info: More Info: I received the J. Cage Cellars 2017 La Cruz Vineyard Chardonnay as a sample for review. (Cheers Roger!) Price: $35 For more information about J. Cage, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the J. Cage Cellars website.

Briscoe Bites Reviews: J. Cage Cellars 2016 van der Kamp Vineyards Pinot Noir

Originally Posted on Briscoe Bites – Booze, Baking, Big Bites and More!

By Stacy Briscoe

I knew this wine was going to be high class the moment I read the vineyard name. As J.Cage Cellars proprietor Roger Beery says, van der Kamp Vineyards is a coveted piece of land amongst winemakers. Sitting at 1,400 feet of elevation along the north-facing, eastern slope of the Sonoma Mountains, the Pinot Noir that grows here enjoys ample sunshine, but cool temperatures. That, along with the loam and volcanic soils, give the grapes a unique vivaciousness, the wines intense in aromas and flavors. The van der Kamps farm their vines biodynamically. And if you’re of two minds about what that means in regards to tasting, I can say from experience that when biodynamics are in place, wines speak of place.

About the Wine: The J. Cage Cellars 2016 van der Kamp Vineyards Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, a blend of six different clones, all harvested from the van der Kamp Vineyard, located on the eastern side of the Sonoma Mountains in Sonoma, California. Grapes were destemmed then cold-soaked for four days before beginning initial fermentation using a combination of native and commercial yeast. The wine was aged in 100% French oak barrels (25% new) for 10 months, where it does undergo a certain amount of secondary, malolactic fermentation. The winery uses mainly Boutes and Gamba barrels.

14.2% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the J. Cage Cellars 2016 van der Kamp Vineyards Pinot Noir and breathe in intense aromas of ripe, plump blackberries, boysenberries, and a most tropical forest floor. This Pinot Noir is a faded purple on the pour, settling into the glass the very definition of rouge: the purple has all but disappeared, but the wine maintains a soft presence, the hue completely penetrable.

Initial aromas are of strawberries, red cherries, boysenberries, chocolate, and damp fertile soil. Swirl and bring out the vibrancy of those fruits and add to that fruit basket a bit of red apple. Deep breath in reveals a floral perfume as well as a bit of savory florals, as if from a squash blossom.

The palate of the J. Cage Cellars 2016 van der Kamp Vineyards Pinot Noir is (to quote my own tasting notes) “straight up smooth.” The tannins create just a film of a backbone — an x-ray image if you will. The acid is delicate at first, amplifying toward the mid-taste, and then subsides. It reminds me of the build up, the roll, the crash, and the pull back of my Pacific Ocean’s waves.

Dominant flavors are black cherry, blackberry, blood orange zest, dusty earth, a hint of black olive, a hint of terragon, a hint of ground coriander, a hint of dust of chili (yes a lot of hints to this complex Pinot Noir), and finally with a finish of baking spices left on the after breath.

Food Pairing: I paired the J. Cage Cellars 2016 van der Kamp Vineyards Pinot Noir with a pan grilled salmon along with a salad of roasted, caramelized red beetroot, radish, black mission figs, dressed with pine nuts, goats cheese, and a fig balsamic. Perfect pairing full stop.

The fig dressing, as well as the figs themselves, brought out the plushyness of the wine’s fruits — those utterly soft tannins, the wine’s body and structure. The innate oiliness of the fish, again highlighted the wine’s smooth texture, but also accented the crescendo of acidity. The sweet and salty flavors of the beets brought out some of those earthy herbs as well as the ripeness of the fruits. And the goats cheese just rounded everything out — in flavor and texture, both in the dish and in the glass.

Briscoe Bites Reviews: J. Cage Cellars 2016 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir

Originally Posted on Briscoe Bites – Booze, Baking, Big Bites and More!

By Stacy Briscoe

After experiencing the van der Kamp Pinot Noir I was excited to try J. Cage’s expression of the same varietal from a different vineyard. In conversing with proprietor Roger Beery, he said, “Single vineyards should be the lead singer..not the winemaker.” True, very true. A good winemaker lets the vineyard tell the story. And it’s amazing tasting the two so close together how one can taste, not a winemaking style, but the disparate style of two different pieces of Sonoma. “Let these outstanding vineyards and winegrowers have a voice,” Beery said. And so they do.

About the Wine: The J. Cage Cellars 2016 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, a combination of Dijon clones, 667 and 115, harvested from the Hallberg Vineyard located in the Green Valley sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma, California. According to proprietor Roger Beery, this vineyard is completely dry-farmed, which allows for deeper root structure and mature fruits with low sugar levels.

Grapes were destemmed then cold-soaked for four days before beginning initial fermentation using a combination of native and commercial yeast. The wine was aged in 100% French oak barrels (25% new) for 10 months, where it does undergo a certain amount of secondary, malolactic fermentation. The winery uses mainly Boutes and Gamba barrels.

14.2% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork on the J. Cage Cellars 2016 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir and breath in brooding aromas of smashed blackberries on the fertile forest floor. Yet, breathe again, and find there’s an aura of milk chocolate. This Pinot Noir is a deep, but see-through rouge on the pour, settling into the glass softer, almost rose-petal red, with hints of violet as it fades out towards the perimeter into ultimate clarity.

Initial aromas are of cranberry, red cherry, min, wild strawberry, and a certain acidity. Swirl and the wine releases fresh green herbaceous scents, almost like spearmint meets tarragon. There’s also a subtle hint of perfume, and that waft of milk chocolate, and just a touch of fresh oak wood.

The palate of the J. Cage Cellars 2016 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir is smooth and soft with a delicate acidity that sneakily increases, hugging the perimeter of the palate, warming the palate and the heart at the very finish. Tannins only act as the faintest outline to this Pinot-picture. Dominant flavors are of oak wood, cumin, marionberry, a meaty savoriness, a hint of potpourri.

As the wine opens up it does become more plushy in texture, but still soft on the palate with that vibrant acidity.

Food Pairing: I paired the J. Cage Cellars 2016 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir with a cioppino. I love how the spice and acidity of the tomato broth brought out the voluptuousness of the fruit, while the smooth texture of the fish and shellfish highlighted the smoothness of the wine. The sea-saltiness of the dish makes you feel a bit more of those tannins — but that’s absolutely a lovely sensation.

More Info: I received the J. Cage Cellars 2016 Hallberg Pinot Noir as a sample for review. (Cheers Roger!) Price: $45 For more information about J. Cage, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the J. Cage Cellars website.

Brisco Bites Reviews J. Cage Cellars 2016 Craftsman’s Blend

Originally Posted on Briscoe Bites – Booze, Baking, Big Bites and More!

By Stacy Briscoe

I’m continuing an exploration of J. Cage Cellars, a small family-run winery in the heart of Sonoma. For a boutique operation, they have a well-rounded portfolio, work with some prestigious vineyards, and produces wines that could easily compete with “better known” names in the wine world. The Beery’s are, in fact, craftsman—and what better way to show off ones winemaking skills than with the art of the blend…

About the Wine: “Some say that the true craft of winemaking comes from blending,” said Roger Beery, owner of J. Cage Cellars. The J. Cage Cellars 2016 Craftsman’s Blend is made of 50% Sangiovese, 40% Zinfandel, and 10% Petite Sirah harvested from Mounts Vineyard in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley AVA in California. The wines were aged in combination neutral French oak barrels and puncheons.

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of J. Cage Cellars 2016 Craftsman’s Blend and breathe in deep, dark florals, damp forest bark, dewy soil, and a hint of black cherry and chocolate. This red blend pours a dusty cranberry-purple, settling into the glass with a deeper-set cranberry center and fading out to a cranberry-pink perimeter.

Initial aromas are, indeed, of cranberry, but also strawberry and red apple—it has a surprisingly fruit-forward nose. Swirl, and find soft, damp florals in the background, a waft of a sea breeze minerality. Inhale deeply to find the wine’s density, the deepness of plum jam. Float the nose away from the glass and find a light herbaceous note reminiscent of flat leaf parsley.

The palate of the J. Cage Cellars 2016 Craftsman’s Blend is soft, cottony, with a strong acidity from start to finish, and a spice-like tingle on the tongue during the finish. Dominant flavors are of black cherry, pomegranate, cranberry, light bramble, and a hint of dry cacao. The finish is slightly drying, but that drying is countered by that lingering acidity.

Food Pairing: I paired the J. Cage Cellars 2016 Craftsman’s Blend with a roasted duck breast served with my “French fusion” rice pilaf. This was an absolutely lovely pairing and it has to do with the way the wine progressed throughout the evening: Tannins and acid co-mingle, softening the texture further, uplifting the fruit flavors, and creating an almost refreshing quality that both balanced out the wine, but also cut through the richness of the dish, thus enhancing the wine-food pairing experience.

More Info: I received the J. Cage Cellars 2016 Craftsman’s Blend as a sample for review. (Cheers Roger!) Price: $35. For more information about J. Cage Cellars, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the J. Cage Cellars website.


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