Happy Wine Wednesday! I’m dreaming of bubbles this morning after attending a super fun event put on by J Vineyards at the PaliHouse in Los Angeles. It was advertised as a wine and cheese interactive tasting led by Winemaker Nicole Hitchcock of J Vineyards and Francois Robin of Fromage France, followed by a cheese and wine soiree.
So, let me get this straight…one of my favorite Sonoma wineries was putting on an event with a French Cheesemonger? Um….yes! Yes please!
I’m not sure what I expected, but I did not expect the wonderful cheese and wine extravaganza I got to enjoy! There was a bar pouring four beautiful wines from J Vineyards: J Sparkling Brut Rose, J Cuvee 20, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir. More on those in a moment… There was a giant table in the middle of the courtyard filled with several different French cheeses, including Brillat-Severin, Tomme de Savoie, Bleu D’Auvergne, and Beaufort. There were olives, almonds, berries, honey, and of course, the requisite bread.
Oh. My. God. I was in heaven!
As if all this wasn’t enough, a table in the corner held the largest display of stacked champagne glasses filled with sparkling wine I had ever seen. It was so impressive, I had to check it out to make sure it was real. And of course, it was glorious and lovely.
Then came the best part of the evening. I had the opportunity to talk to Winemaker Nicole Hitchcock at length. We discussed sustainable farming, drip irrigation, and she even told me about a technique J Vineyards uses where infrared photos are taken from an airplane of each separate area of the vineyard to determine what different blocks of grapes might need. Fascinating!
The wines were delicious, and I did my due diligence by tasting all four. So, without further ado, here are the tasting notes:
J Brut Rose: The first wine I tried was the J Brut Rose. I have a fondness for sparkling roses, and this was no different. The rose gold color was inviting, with lively bubbles and soft aromas of minerals and rose petals. It was crisp and dry on the palate, with good acidity and flavors of strawberries, currants and green apples. This wine retails for around $40. It paired nicely with the harder French cheeses.
J Cuvee 20: I tried this sparkler next and had it again before I left. It was my favorite of the evening. It was a light golden hue with a slight sweetness both on the nose and the palate. It had a lovely effervescence with flavors of honeyed almonds, candied lemon, peach, and a slight flinty minerality. This wine retails for around $40. I paired it with the bleu cheese and the brie.
2017 Pinot Gris: As I’ve mentioned in my blog before, I am usually not a fan of lighter wines like Pinot Gris, but this one was delightful! The bartender gave me a rather large glass of it, and I drank it all. It had intoxicating tropical fruit aromas, with pineapple, papaya and lychee on the palate. It had great acidity and paired beautifully with the stinky and soft Epoisses. This wine retails for around $20.
2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: This cooler climate Pinot Noir had delicious notes of raspberries, vanilla and spice on the nose. Flavors of blueberry, lilac, and black currant with brioche and spice fill the palate. This wine retails for around $40. I paired it with the Tomme.