Wine Reviews

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Score

2007 J. Lohr Vineyard Series Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon

"This wine shows the power of Paso Robles Cabernet, as evolved from Eberle to Justin. The wine is chewy and thick, with currant fruit, violet aromas, and a tobacco-cedar spiciness. There is power, yes, but also a fineness that carries through from first whiff to lingering aftertaste. Liquid art."

Quarterly Review of Wines
Richard Hinkle

2007 J. Lohr Cuvée Series POM Red Blend

"About four-fifths Merlot in composition, this wine is invitingly soft with red mulberry and Santa Rosa plum fruit, with just a light dusting of nutmeg spiciness in the finish. A T-bone would do very nicely with this one."

Quarterly Review of Wines
Richard Hinkle

2008 J. Lohr Vineyard Series Fog's Reach Pinot Noir

"A year in the bottle has added a dash of pepper and a little extra strawberry softness to the essential black cherry-cola mix."

Quarterly Review of Wines
Richard Hinkle

2008 J. Lohr Gesture Gesture GSM

"This Rhône-inspired mix of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre is lively and vivacious, with generous cherry and cranberry fruit that spreads out licentiously all over the place. There is a touch of mint and rosemary spiciness in the finish that tucks all that fruit back into a framework that is artfully structured."

Quarterly Review of Wines
Richard Hinkle

2008 J. Lohr Gesture Gesture Mourvedre

"Very dark in color, with brash black pepper and pomegranate, along with some brittle camphor spiciness. This bad boy's got attitude to spare, a swagger if you will. Not for namby-pamby cuisine, that's for sure. 'This comes from our Gravity Hills Vineyard, which is quite steep and always produces wines of great intensity,' says Meier. 'These grapes are really late to ripen; they come in even after the Cabernet!'"

Quarterly Review of Wines
Richard Hinkle

J. Lohr Gesture Gesture Syrah

"This is the delicate-elegant side of Syrah, with crisply incisive strawberry and green tea that is brittle but shy. An ideal picnic wine, with just enough body to handle the pastrami and the pickles."

Quarterly Review of Wines
Richard Hinkle

2008 J. Lohr Vineyard Series Tower Road Petite Sirah

"Black to the point of opaque in color, and not shy in the mouth either, with persistent plum and persimmon fruit in the main, with a hit of brittle blueberry to push the fruit even further forward. Very solidly built. (The color is so dark that I couldn't help but think that you could substitute this wine for black ink in your fountain pen, should you still have one. It also reminded me of the late Steve O'Donnell's trick — he was the original winemaker at Callaway — of pouring an ounce of his Petite Sirah into a full tumbler of water. Turned the water black, in an instant.)"

Quarterly Review of Wines
Richard Hinkle

2009 J. Lohr Estates South Ridge Syrah

Monterey Wine Competition

Gold

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

"Petite is Neat: J. Lohr's small-lot wines help to make their larger offerings better." "Coaching baseball, I always remind the kids that the first words the umpire says are 'Play ball!' Not work ball, but play ball. After putting in all the preparatory work — yes, I also tell them that, 'with another ten thousand reps, you're going to be good at this' — the game is supposed to be fun. The philosopher in me demands that the same ought to be true in one's work experience. Wherever there is a little 'play' in the mix, the job is done better. Jeff Meier, Director of Winemaking at J. Lohr, agrees with that assessment. 'We have especially seen that with our 'small lot' wines,' says the San Francisco Bay Area native. 'That whole thing started when we first began to take Pinot Noir seriously a few years ago. We brought in six-ton and twelve-ton open top fermenters and sorting tables, which are particularly valuable when handling Pinot Noir. You can leave a little raisined fruit in the Zinfandel, and that'll work out okay, but you definitely cannot do that with the Pinot.' Founder-owner Jerry Lohr had originally planted Pinot Noir in Monterey's Arroyo Seco when the winery was first opened back in the early 1970s, but the wines were not anything to crow about. 'Could have been the clones,' shrugs Meier. 'Or it could have been that we had a Champagne selection rather than a good Burgundy selection. There weren't that many good Pinots in those days, in any case. 'But in 2003 — this was before Sideways came out — Jerry asked me what I thought of revisiting Pinot Noir and I said, 'I've been waiting seventeen years!' You see, I've always been a fan of Pinot Noir, but we didn't have the production capabilities to handle Pinot. You've got to downsize everything because the grape is capricious; it requires the gentlest, most patient approach possible. I've had Pinots that I put into the bottle that I thought had the texture down perfectly, only to taste it a few months later and wonder what I was thinking. Then, when you give it another six months or a year, hey, there it is again. Dang!' One thing that came out of the Pinot Noir revival at Lohr was the Gesture series of small lot (400 cases, plus or minus) wines that are sold solely through the wine centers and to wine club members. 'We asked our wine center staff, and they were nothing but excited to have some special wine all to themselves. On our side, we were noticing certain gem-quality lots from certain vineyards that it was a shame to blend out into larger bottlings — some Syrah, some Mourvèdre, and a few others. Now we're going to add a Viognier, a Zinfandel and a Grenache Rose to the Gesture line. 'Incidentally, our foray into Pinot Noir has also allowed us to increase the inherent suppleness of our other red wines. A lot of that comes from the Vaucher-Beguet Mistral berry-sorting system we installed, initially, for our small lot Pinot Noirs. It is designed to remove stem pieces, green berries and raisins from the fruit before being dumped into our small, open-top fermenters. We had also installed heating and cooling systems for all these new tanks, to allow for cold soaks prior to fermentation, and then warming for the fermentation itself. That, and very gentle punch downs, gave us red wines of much softer texture, wines that were supple and sensual. Turns out, all of that gentle handling ends up helping all of our red wines to be better, in texture and in balance.' Similarly, the Cuvee series (POM, PAU and St. E) are also in the small lot, 400-ish cases frame of reference, this from a winery that does more than a million cases a year overall (including a non-alcoholic line called ARIEL).'For the most part, we feel that our PAU [Pauillac-inspired] has probably come the closest to resembling the wines from that region, in that it delivers a complete Cabernet Sauvignon experience. But I do admit to a certain personal bias in favor of Cabernet Franc, so our St. E [St.-emilion-like] is a wine that I find very interesting to work with. Our growers hate the Franc, because they're always having to thin the fruit throughout the growing season, but I really like the earthy, dried-leaf aromatics that distinguish the variety.'"

Quarterly Review of Wines
Richard Hinkle

2009 J. Lohr Vineyard Series Fog's Reach Pinot Noir

"Clearly-defined black cherry fruit runs through this wine from front to back, with some sweet mushroom and cola in the middle, and a bit of clove spiciness to hold it all together. The texture is like a cloak thrown over the shoulder on an ice-chilled evening: silky, yet solid."

Quarterly Review of Wines
Richard Hinkle

2008 J. Lohr Vineyard Series Tower Road Petite Sirah

Monterey Wine Competition

Gold

2008 J. Lohr Vineyard Series Arroyo Vista Chardonnay

Monterey Wine Competition

Gold

2009 J. Lohr Vineyard Series Fog's Reach Pinot Noir

Monterey Wine Competition

Gold

2010 J. Lohr Estates Wildflower Valdiguié

Monterey Wine Competition

Platinum

2008 J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot

Florida State Fair International Wine Competition

Gold