J Vineyards & Winery Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2014

Ruby color with translucence; cherry, raspberry nose; dark cherry, raspberry, plum, strawberry, cranberry on the palate.

Full body, spice on the finish. Smooth texture, ripe, nice fruit expressions; oak delivers some cola and brown sugar. Malolactic fermentation in French oak and 3.65 pH make this very easy in the mouth. Balanced, food friendly.

Judy Jordan—the daughter of Jordan Vineyard & Winery founder Tom Jordan—began J Vineyards & Winery in 1986 specializing in sparkling wine, but then also moved into pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris still wines. She named her initial single-vineyard pinot noir in 1994 after her first child, Nicole. The next single-vineyard release was named after her second child, Robert Thomas.

This effort is labeled “Estate Grown,” meaning it comes from J Vineyards more than 300 acres—one of the largest holdings in the Russian River Valley—around Healdsburg, California. Vineyards include Robert Thomas, Nicole’s, Bow Tie, and Canfield. Each vineyard block’s press was kept separate until final blending.

In 2015, Gallo purchased Jordan’s operation because, Judy explained: “the winery kept getting bigger and bigger, and it was more and more pressure with operations, and I was getting further and further away from what I particularly love, which is geology, terroir and the vineyard–because I was running a big company.” So this is the last vintage grown under Jordan’s control.

Judy also said she sold to Gallo because it is a family-owned business that shares her core values. Gallo knows how to run a big company (they are the largest family owned wine operation in the world), and fortunately how to allow wineries that do things right—which is why they were attractive properties in the first place—to continue to do things right.

J Vineyards & Winery Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2014 is excellent expression of full-bodied Russian River Valley pinot noir at this price point. $37-40

J Winery website

Second photo: J Winery Robert Thomas vineyard

J Vineyards & Winery Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2014
J Vineyard Robert Thomas vineyard