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An Introduction to Several Californian Wines

The legacy of the late Jess Jackson is carried on by Barbara Banke who became Chairman of the Jackson Family Estates two years ago.  Though I was familiar Cardinale, La Jota, Lokoya, and Vérité I knew nothing about the wines I recently tasted with Kristen Reitzell.  She oversees PR and as part of a national presence she reaches out at regional and local levels.   During her recent trip to Washington, D.C. we spent the afternoon tasting through four wines.  Cenyth, Galerie, Maggy Hawk, and Mt. Brave are all a part of the Jackson Family Estates yet they are individual wineries with different winemakers producing wine from their own vineyards.  After tasting through the wines with Kristen I followed them over a couple more days.

The 2012 Galeria, Naissance, Sauvignon Blanc is the second vintage produced by Laura Diaz Muñoz.  She was mentored for several years by Chris Carpenter (Mt. Brave).  This wine opened up nicely revealing great texture and lively acidity.  It drank well over the course of several days, always proving to be a satisfying glass, and an impressive wine which I would drink again.  The 2007 Maggy Hawk, Stormin’ , Pinot Noir represents the inaugural vintage for this estate produced by Elizabeth Grant-Douglas.  Maggy Hawk is the favorite thoroughbred horse of Barbara Banke and Stormin’ was born of Maggy Hawk.  The fruit for this wine was sourced from a single block.  This drank well with its balance between plentiful fruit, maturity, and mouthfeel, making this a bottle to open up now.  The 2009 Mt. Brave, Cabernet Sauvignon is from a project of Chris Carpenter who produced this wine using high altitude fruit from Mt. Veeder.  This bottle was clearly a serious wine with good flavors and the intended components for long-term aging.  Well-done.  The 2009 Cenyth is the inaugural vintage from the collaboration by Pierre Seillan (Vérité) and his daughter Helene.  As the winemaker at Cenyth, Helene will change the composition of the blend with each vintage.  This will reflect the progression of her mentorship with the wine ultimately being a reflection of her style.  This particular bottle oscillated over three nights, at times giving a glimpse of a good future, but ultimately showing this wine really needs several years in the cellar.

Many thanks to Kristen for introducing me to these wines.  I plan to look at these estates at an individual level so check back again in the future.


2012 Galerie, Naissance, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley – $30
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc with 50% whole cluster fermentation and aged sur lie in 50% neutral French oak barrels and 50% stainless steel tanks. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a very light straw.  The light to medium strength nose revealed yellow citrus and a little grassy hint.  In the mouth were flavors of white citrus fruit, and a hint of ripe melon.  There was a fine texture which built from the middle until it coated the mouth in the aftertaste.  Some salivating acidity came out, spices, followed by a racy, mineral infused aftertaste.  This responded well to extended air and maintained liveliness through acidity on the tongue, good texture, and length.  *** Now-2016.


2007 Maggy Hawk, Stormin’, Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was aged for 14-15 months in 50% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.3%.  There was good complexity on the nose.  In the mouth was a ripe, glycerine textured entry with fruit that mixed with integrated acidity.  It bore a cinnamon spice hint in the black and red fruit which was a touch brambly.  It showed some wood notes and bottle age.  It even took on more power with air.  *** Now-2015.


2009 Mt. Brave, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – $75
This wine is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was blue and black fruit, stone flavors, and a strong but supporting structure of very fine, drying tannins.  This was clearly meant to age.  After two days the nose bore some dense fruit and leather.  In the mouth, the black fruit mixed with minerals, a hint of smoke, and some ink which was followed by a spicy finish and expansive aftertaste.  ***(*) 2016-2030.


2009 Cenyth, Sonoma County – $60
This wine is a blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot, and 7% Malbec.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was cooler tasting fruit in this powdery, dense wine.  There was a core of blue fruit, a hint of earth, and lipstick in the finish.  This drank best on the second night with a rounder feel but the textured structure was starting to clamp down leaving a youthful profile on the third night.  **(*) 2016-2026.


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