Wine Reviews

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Score

2009 J. Lohr Vineyard Series October Night Chardonnay

Winemaker Challenge (Robert Whitley, Director)

Gold

2008 J. Lohr Vineyard Series Tower Road Petite Sirah

Hilton Head International Wine Judging & Competition

Gold

2009 J. Lohr Estates Falcon's Perch Pinot Noir

Hilton Head International Wine Judging & Competition

Gold

2008 J. Lohr Gesture Gesture Mourvedre

"Dark-colored, offering vivid blackberry and wild berry flavors that are pure and rich. This is smooth-textured, with touches of road tar, tobacco, iodine and sage. Drink now through 2017."

Wine Spectator
James Laube

88 Points

2008 J. Lohr Gesture Gesture Syrah

"Firm, dense, rustic and full-bodied, with chewy dried currant, mineral, berry sage and graphite flavors. Ends with chunky fruit and drying tannins. Best from 2011 through 2017."

Wine Spectator
James Laube

87 Points

2008 J. Lohr Estates South Ridge Syrah

"Paso Robles: Straying from the Beaten Path" "If you’ve ever driven Highway 101 between Los Angeles and San Francisco, then you appreciate the phrase 'middle of nowhere.' It’s a long, yawn-inducing drive that’s made better only when you consider two things: Driving Interstate 5 is even worse, and Highway 101 takes you through California’s Central Coast wine country. The halfway point on the drive is Paso Robles, a place I like to stop and realign my vertebrae. Since it’s one of the most dynamic wine regions in California, I’m not in a hurry to leave. Whether you’re a collector or new to wine, Paso Robles and its wines are worth knowing better. The region built its early reputation on Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, but in the past decade, Syrah and other Rhône grapes such as Grenache and Mourvèdre have been making exciting wines... Value-seekers should try J. Lohr Syrah Paso Robles South Ridge 2008 (86, $15) for its dark plum and spicy sandalwood aromas. Paso Robles remains something of a dichotomy in California wine. Winemaking dates back to 1797, when Franciscan friars first planted grapes, and it has been an American Viticultural Area (AVA) since 1983, predating notable regions like Rutherford and Santa Lucia Highlands. But it hasn’t always won the respect it’s earning today. Even now, nearly 60 percent of the region’s grapes are sold to wineries outside the area and blended into mass-marketed wines. That $12 Merlot with a California designation or $10 Cabernet with a Central Coast AVA may contain plenty of Paso Robles wine. The 2009 Beaulieu Coastal Estates California Cabernet 2009 is 21 percent Paso grapes, for example, and the 2008 Robert Mondavi Private Selection California Cabernet is 30 percent. Pass of the Oaks, as it translates from Spanish, is about 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean on the inland side of the Santa Lucia coastal mountains. About 26,000 acres are planted in vines. The flat lands and bench lands east of Highway 101 were the traditional locations for vineyards, and where 1970s pioneers like Gary Eberle set down roots. Since the late 1990s, winegrowing has increasingly shifted toward the hillier, and harder to farm, west side of town. It can get hot in Paso, I can attest. Step outside your air-conditioned car on a sunny August day and you’ll soon dive for shade. But Paso Robles also has some of the largest temperature swings in California wine country, thanks to evening fog and cool breezes from the ocean. Summer days range between 85 and 105 degrees, but often cool by 40 or 50 degrees at night, especially on the west side. The soils on the west side, too, are more abundantly laced with rocky limestone and calcareous shale, which many winemakers believe lend the wines depth and natural acidity. Despite the attention it has been drawing in the wine world, Paso Robles remains a small town. There are some 180 wineries in the area, and 95 percent of them are owned by families, most of them hands-on farmers. About two-thirds of the wineries produce fewer than 5,000 cases a year. Paso Robles doesn’t seem like a place that will ever get too big for its britches, and that’s part of the appeal for people like me. Maybe being in the middle of nowhere is a good thing after all."

Wine Spectator
Tim Fish

86 Points

2007 J. Lohr Cuvée Series St. E Red Blend

Winemaker Challenge (Robert Whitley, Director)

Platinum - Best of Class Red Bordeaux Blend

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

Winemaker Challenge

Platinum - Best of Class Pinot Noir

2007 J. Lohr Cuvée Series PAU Red Blend

Winemaker Challenge

Gold

2008 J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon

"Our Top 20 Searched-For Wines" The wine was listed as number 13 on the list. "

Snooth.com
Gregory dal Piaz

2009 J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay

"Wine List: From Chardonnay to Zin, This Week's Picks" "A complex chardonnay, with notes of ripe pear, nectarine and honey. It's toasty but the wine's citrus gives it a lift. Good acidity. Balanced."

Press Democrat
Peg Melnik

2008 J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot

"This reasonably priced Paso Robles merlot offers bright cherry, a hint of tobacco, a subtle herbal note and medium tannins. A great choice for a burger."

San Luis Obispo Tribune
Fred Tasker

Wine of the Week

2009 J. Lohr Estates Wildflower Valdiguié

"Valdiguie - California Style" "For a grape with such limited plantings, Valdiguie can be surprisingly easy to find. J. Lohr produces a varietal Valdiguie bottling called 'Wildflower' which is readily available in many wine shops. They source their grapes from the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County, California. They actually only use carbonic maceration for about 20% of the crop with the rest vinified in the traditional method in stainless steel tanks. The color was a bright, purply magenta color, though it didn't have a lot of saturation. On the nose there were aromas of cranberry sauce, tart cherries and raspberry jam. The wine was medium bodied, though it felt a little thin on the palate, with medium acidity and very light tannins. 'Fresh red fruits' really encapsulates the flavor profile of this wine with light red cherry and cranberry flavors along with some fresh raspberry as well. It's a pretty simple wine, but it's also very enjoyable and easy to drink on its own, though it would be a great match for poultry and light pork dishes as well as some heavier fish. It would be a great wine to serve at Thanksgiving. It is definitely for fans of Beaujolais wines or any soft, fruity, juicy red wines. This is a wine to drink young, as it doesn't really have the structure to endure very much aging." There was a bottle image that accompanied mention. "

Fringe Wine

ARIEL Non-Alcoholic Wines ARIEL Brut Cuvée

California State Fair

Silver

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

"On Wine: Wine Trends for 2011" "As the economy makes some tentative gains, the wine business has slowly rebounded, too. But what wine trends can we expect in 2011? I put the question to various people in the industry -- analysts, vintners, retailers and sommeliers -- and here's what they had to say. Vino, por favor: Wines from Latin America and Spain will continue to be hot. Argentina has seen its exports to the United States explode. "It's all about malbec," says Christian Miller of Full Glass Research in Berkeley. Another analyst, Eileen Fredrikson of Gomberg, Fredrikson and Associates in Woodside, concurs: "There's little question that Argentina, with its malbec and its lower cost of production, is going to continue to be strong." Jim Meyers, co-owner of Wine Thieves stores in Lafayette and Clayton, notes that Argentine wines, particularly malbecs and malbec-based blends, are similar in style to wines from California, which helps their popularity. As for Chile, its exports have slowed, but Fredrikson sees it making a comeback. Miller adds that, in his Wine Opinions survey of regular wine drinkers, people say they're drinking more Chilean wines. Spanish wines, too, should continue to be popular. "Spain is just amazing. They have managed to defy the value of the euro and send us luscious, well-priced wines," Fredrikson says. Meyers adds: "The bang for the buck seems to be there." Palatable prices: Although wineries' "suggested retail prices" haven't Advertisement changed much, in reality, prices have dropped. Discounts abound in stores, and consumers also can turn to popular discount wine-shopping sites, such as Wines Til Sold Out (www.wtso.com). Very pricey bottles are still hard to sell, Miller says, but midpriced and upper midpriced wines are doing well. Jerry Lohr, owner of J. Lohr Vineyards in San Jose, says his hottest wines are in the Estates tier, at prices of $10-$17 a bottle, depending on the grape variety. Sales of his lower-priced Cypress wines ($6-$10) are declining. "People aren't worrying as much about the price," Lohr says. "They're worrying about the value." The Wine Thieves stores specialize in bottles priced from $10 to $16. "That seems to still be the sweet spot," Meyers says. New and old: Argentine malbec isn't the only hot grape variety. "Riesling is potentially explosive," Miller says. "Sauvignon blanc is doing well." Others I talked to mentioned some other alternative whites, including albarino, torrontes and verdelho, both imported and domestic versions. Meyers says the popularity of Spanish reds is fueling interest in all versions of tempranillo, the grape of Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro. But some old standbys may be losing their luster with wine lovers. "We've seen the erosion of the old guard and even the middle guard," Miller says. From France, for example, "Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Cotes du Rhone are doing well; Bordeaux is not." Meyers says his customers have lost interest in Italian and French wines, at least in part because of the strong euro. Australian wines? "No one is asking for them," Meyers says. As for California wines, although chardonnay continues to be this country's top-selling varietal, Miller thinks it's a wine that's "boomer-centered." It has a core of loyal followers but, he says, "I don't see it developing any new drinkers." Still, chardonnay has fans in Silicon Valley. Harry Fong, general manager of Vintage Wine Merchants in San Jose's Santana Row, says that California chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon are "the bread and butter of what we do." Cabernet's draw has also "stayed steady" at the Forbes Mill Steakhouses in Los Gatos and Danville, wine director Patrick Mullane says. Mullane says pinot noir continues to be popular too, a sentiment echoed by several others. But it no longer appears to be recession-proof, which could be good news for pinot lovers. A lot of pinot was planted during the grape's heyday -- not only in California, but also in Oregon and New Zealand -- and supplies may soon outstrip demand. It's the perfect scenario for lower prices. My advice: There are more choices than ever, and reasonable prices abound. Sure, you should drink what you like. But resolve in 2011 to expand your horizons and try something new. "

Mercury News.com
Laurie Daniel