Wine Reviews

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Score

2008 J. Lohr Vineyard Series Carol's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Monterey Wine Competition

Platinum

2010 J. Lohr Vineyard Series Carol's Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

2012 Monterey Wine Competition

Gold

2010 Cypress Vineyards Cypress Vineyards Merlot

2012 Monterey Wine Competition

Gold

2009 Cypress Vineyards Cypress Vineyards Merlot

Pacific Rim Wine Competition (National Orange Show)

Silver

2008 J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot

Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

Double Gold

2007 J. Lohr Vineyard Series Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon

Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

Best Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 J. Lohr Estates Falcon's Perch Pinot Noir

"A delicious Pinot Noir to drink now with upscale fare. It’s very fruity, offering a burst of raspberries and cherries, together with a coat of sweet, smoky oak. But crisp acidity and smooth, silky tannins provide a balanced structure."

Wine Enthusiast
Steve Heimoff

90 Points

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

"Shows true cool-climate varietal character in the aromas and flavors of cherries, cola, pomegranates and rhubarb pie, with complicating notes from charred oak barrels. Very good, mouthfilling and dry, with brisk acidity. Should develop in the bottle for a few years."

Wine Enthusiast
Steve Heimoff

91 Points

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

"Monterey Uncorks New Wine Murals to Draw Tourists" "The Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association is hoping that eight new 12-foot-tall wine murals along Highway 101 will lure tourists to this wine-producing region of California. Monterey County boasts a whopping 40,000 acres of vineyards, but until now, travelers along the popular highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco saw little of this booming industry from the road. The murals span a 30-mile stretch along the highway, illustrating Monterey County's wine producing history, depicting key figures in the industry, and pointing out the 35 tasting rooms in the area. In all, nearly 8 million tourists visit Monterey County every year, and while the MCVGA does not track exact numbers of how many of those are there for the wine, Rhonda Motil, executive director of the MCVGA, tells AOL Travel News: 'Having these murals strategically placed along Highway 101 will increase visibility for our wine country immeasurably to millions of travelers. We look forward to increased awareness, foot traffic to wineries, additional wine club members and wine purchases, and to developing relationships with our consumers.' Artists John Cerney and Dong Sun Kim painted the murals with funds from a Rural Business Enterprise Grant under the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The wine region produces world-class wines from Pinot Noirs to signature Chardonnays, according to Koleen Hamblin, spokesperson for the Monterey County CVB. 'The new [Vineyard Ventures Exploration] River Road tasting trail, with 10-plus tasting rooms, has expanded [wine] tasting opportunities, and a cache of hand-crafted small lot wines can also be found in Carmel Valley and beyond,' Hamblin said. Wine lovers can also follow the Coastal Connoisseur Itinerary along the Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea coastline and the Country Charm trip to Carmel Valley."

AOL Travel
Felicity Long

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

"Wineries Raise Money for Japan: But Red Cross in Idaho turns down help from local wineries" "Boise, Idaho—When seven Idaho wineries planned a benefit for Japanese earthquake/tsunami relief, they decided to donate a portion of tasting room sales to the American Red Cross. Last week, the Idaho Wine Commission issued a news release to let the public know that weekend purchases from 800-case Bitner Vineyards, Cold Springs Winery (4,000 cases), retailer Coyotes Fine Wines, Davis Creek Cellars (500 cases), Fujishin Family Cellars (500 cases), Indian Creek (Stowe) Winery (4,900-cases) and Snyder Winery (2,500 cases) would result in contributions to Red Cross relief. On Monday, though, Moya Shatz, the commission’s executive director, emailed contacts: 'On Friday a press release was sent out prematurely stating that Idaho wineries would be donating a portion of their proceeds to the Red Cross in an effort to support Japan. Per the Red Cross’s rules and regulations, they must take extra care when associating themselves with alcohol and firearms. Therefore, wineries will not be able to donate to the Red Cross as businesses.' Meanwhile, vintners in California were planning—and announcing—similar benefit efforts. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, epicenter of the disastrous October 1989 Loma Prieta quake, wineries pledged to donate tasting fees last weekend, including those from Bonny Doon (20,000 cases), Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard (4,000 cases), Silver Mountain Vineyard (4,000 cases), Sones Cellars (2,000 case), Storrs Cellars (12,000 cases), retail center Old Sash Mill and Vine Hill Winery (2,000 cases). Wines & Vines learned of this effort from Cindy Molchany, Boutique Wines Management Co., and asked her if the Red Cross had put up any resistance. Red Cross in California accepts Not at all, she responded. 'I wonder if it is a chapter-specific policy. I received an email over the weekend from the marketing director of the Santa Cruz (Red Cross) chapter, and she seemed elated over the efforts here, and she wanted to see how we could work together to promote it further. If it turns out to actually be the policy of the Red Cross, I’ll be shocked. Follow that same thought process, and no school should ever solicit donations from wineries for their fundraisers.' Napa Valley Vintners maintains a similarly warm working relationship with the Napa County Red Cross. The two organizations are among others in the community that are staging an event this coming Sunday afternoon, March 27, at the Napa Valley Opera House to benefit Iwanuma, Napa’s sister city in Japan, which was severely damaged in the earthquake. 'Our involvement was to reach out to our 400 members last week for tools to help with relief, by donating financially to the Red Cross, or donating wine for auction or pouring at the event,' NVV’s Rex Stults told Wines & Vines. The mid-afternoon event will include a reception, wine, food, a silent auction and performances in the main theater. Both auction proceeds and ticket sales ($35 general, $75 preferred) will support the cause. For details, visit nvoh.org. Frank Lucier, executive director of the Red Cross Napa County chapter, works closely with the wine industry on relief efforts, including events to benefit Haitian earthquake recovery last year. 'The wineries are our biggest supporters,' he said. 'The only restriction on fundraising I know of is gambling, but we can do auctions. The wineries are doing a great job raising money for Japan, where they really need our support.' An unfortunate misunderstanding? Lucier explained that the American Red Cross is organized in 10 regional divisions and put Wines & Vines in touch with Pat Hofmaster, vice president of the West Division, based in Sacramento. When told of the Idaho misfire, Hofmaster expressed consternation. 'That is very unfortunate,' she said. 'We have a close relationship with the wineries here in California. We appreciate and love that support from wineries. I would certainly not turn away that support: Wineries are such a part of our culture and economy.' She explained that Idaho is not part of her territory, but said she had contacted her counterpart in the Northwest to try and clarify the situation there. 'We need to use good judgment in any partnership,' she conceded. The Red Cross, she said, wants to do 'anything we can to work together to enhance our support of the people we serve.' According to Schatz at the Idaho Wine Commission, Christopher Davis at the Boise, Idaho, Red Cross had nixed the local plan. Davis explained: 'I'm just following what I'm advised to do. We are absolutely excited, and embrace the wine industry in showing their support. I'm told we are researching what we can do with them, but we are hesitant to do a per-bottle-sold thing.' He acknowledged, 'The big thing, I think, is that as an emerging area, so we are treading carefully.' According to Abi Weaver, senior communications officer at the American Red Cross, International Services, in Washington, D.C., 'This particular offer was not shared with our national headquarters staff. 'It is true that we do not create partnerships in which a percentage of purchase may motivate consumers to purchase alcohol. However, the America Red Cross would accept a philanthropic contribution, help the company drive public donations from their website with an American Red Cross web banner, or even set up a special fundraising micro-site for the organization,' she concluded.While Schatz did not have any figures for earnings in the Idaho tasting rooms last weekend, she has advised her members just to write personal checks to the Red Cross for the appropriate amounts. Meanwhile, million-case producer J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, San Jose, Calif., is avoiding any conflicts while making it easy for its customers to donate. A message atop the blog page on its website reads: 'Our Thoughts are with Japan. 'Today at J. Lohr, we find ourselves overwhelmed by the devastation following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. As we sit and watch this unfold, we remember how fortunate we’ve been, but at the same time, we are humbled by the reminder of how fragile and volatile the earth can be. Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and to the rescuers who are risking their lives to assist these victims. From all of us at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines—our thoughts are with you.' The entry concludes with an invitation to phone or text 1-800-RED-CROSS to make a $10 donation."

Wines & Vines
Jane Firstenfeld

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

"No Surprise That U.S. Drinks Most Wine Long-term trends led to U.S. passing France as biggest wine market" "Woodside, Calif.—John Fredrikson says it’s been seven or eight years since he first projected that the United States would become the No. 1 wine-consuming nation in the world. During 2010, according to the most recent data from Gomberg-Fredrikson & Associates, that prediction became a reality. According to the Gomberg-Fredrikson 2010 Annual Wine Industry Review, the U.S. last year edged out France to become the No. 1 wine-consuming nation on Earth. 'It wasn’t a surprise,' Fredrikson told Wines & Vines. 'What was a surprise was that (years ago, when we first made this prediction,) we actually projected faster growth for the American market and a slower decrease in France. What happened was that the French consumption rate went down quicker than projected, and U.S. consumption went at a nice clip, but not as fast as predicted.' Doug Goodwin, vice president of client insights for beer, wine and spirits for Symphony IRI (SIRI), said that during the past five years wine consumption has been 'increasing at an increasing rate, whereas beer sales have been relatively flat, and the spirits market has been soft as well.' What led to record consumption? The fact that Americans drink more wine than any other country is surprising given that annual U.S. consumption stands at just 2.6 gallons per capita. Still, Fredrikson maintains that a variety of factors led the U.S. wine market to this point. For example, during the past three or four decades wine has gradually crossed into the American mainstream to become an acceptable beverage to drink with dinner rather than being reserved for special occasions. Additionally, young people today adopt a penchant for wine at an earlier age—particularly young men, who have traditionally gravitated to beer instead. Fredrikson also adds, 'Today wine is much more approachable than ever before, and it’s a dream market for American consumers. The quality is high, and there are many, many discounts around.' According to Goodwin, whose company SIRI tracks check stand sales data, the $11-$14.99 and $15-$19.99 price points are doing exceptionally well. Goodwin says that the month of January is typically the low point for wine sales, but January 2011 showed the highest sales by value in the past five years. Regional associations and individual wineries are making a more demonstrable effort to woo consumers and boost consumption through increased sales. Jeff Meier, winemaker at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines in Paso Robles, Calif., says that more wineries have been attempting to interact with consumers directly through trade shows, regional promotions and tasting events, which promote the business as a whole. 'Some of the new brands that have popped up have made wine less pretentious and more approachable,' Meier said, 'and it gets more people interested in wine.' Selling wine overseas U.S. wine exports jumped 1.9% by volume (to 47.3 million cases) and 26.6% by value (to $1.14 billion) during 2010, according to the Gomberg-Fredrikson report, which analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The European Union imports 38% of total U.S. wine exports by value, while Canada represents the No. 1 single country importing U.S. wine at 27% of total exports by value. Hong Kong, Japan and China lag behind, with 10%, less than 7% and 4%, respectively. With 1 million cases produced annually, according to WinesVinesDATA, J. Lohr is one California winery selling abroad. Meier says the company is distributed in 40 different markets around the world, with Canada being its most significant export partner. Still, one of the keys to the winery’s success is thoroughly studying markets before jumping in. 'I would say we’re just trying to take care of the customers that we have at this point in time, and not aggressively searching out new business ventures,' Meier said. 'We have our hands very full right now.'"

Wines & Vines
Kate Lavin

J. Lohr Vineyard Series Arroyo Vista Chardonnay

"High-dollar but worth it, a rich, well-balanced, upper-tier white from a renowed California winery."

Arkansas Times

2007 J. Lohr Cuvée Series St. E Red Blend

"In this vintage the blend is pretty much split between the two Cabernets, Franc and Sauvignon. The fruit is thick, with black currant and blackberry (the Sauvignon) and decided cherry and rose petal aromatic notes from the Franc. 'While the Right Bank wines of St.-emilion are usually based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, we don't feel restricted by varietal percentages in aiming to create a subtle red that emulates what the French are doing there,' explains Meier. 'We're just focusing in on the texture and the complexity of the blend. Part of the 'play' that we were talking about. It's fun.'"

Quarterly Review of Wines
Richard Hinkle

2007 J. Lohr Cuvée Series PAU Red Blend

"That said, Cabernet Sauvignon does dominate the Pauillacinspired PAU that Meier makes (with about six percent of Petit Verdot). The wine is solid and large, with black currant and cassis fruit, violets and blackberry floral notes — all that you'd expect from a Cabernet-based red. It's all there in solid, certain black and red."

Quarterly Review of Wines
Richard Hinkle

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

"St. Helena's Sacred Ground" "I admire wine writers like Dave Stoneberg, the Star’s wine and business editor, who would rather write about the interesting facets of a winemaker’s life than the particular flavors of his or her wine. After a two-day crash course at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley, I realized that a lot of scribes are still learning how to write about wine like Dave. Me, too. Every year I try to review the annual Appellation St. Helena wine tasting at Krug Winery. In past years, I spoke with vintners and tasted their wines, but then tried to rank the wine. My scores continued to rise as the three-hour tasting wore on. Before long everyone was getting scores of 97 and 98 as I was getting gassed. This year, I learned to spit. I also asked the vintners what makes the St. Helena appellation so special. 'The ground has a lot to do with it,' said W. Van Ballentine, whose father, John, started Ballentine Winery in 1933 and gave Deer Park its name. Rich Salvestrin, a third-generation St. Helena winemaker, said it’s all about the soil. 'The fruit is at its optimum ripeness because the soil is gravelly and well-drained, so the vines have to work to find available water,' he told me. Dianna Varozza, daughter-in-law of Harold Varozza, said the gravelly soil of the St. Helena appellation injects 'a minerally earthiness in the wine, making it fresh and very fruity.' Since Harold’s father bought property here in 1913, Varozza Vineyards has been producing cab for 60 years and petite sirah for 80. Why is the soil gravelly? Robert Biale, who has produced 14 vintages of St. Helena zinfandel over the past 20 years, said the appellation marks the narrowest part of the valley, where the soils that washed down from the mountains created 'a lot of gravel pits.' A lot of zinfandel is grown on gravel, he noted. 'For zin,' said Paul Skinner, owner of Sequum, 'the soils hold the water so you can dry farm with old-vine vineyards.' The soil is so versatile, Skinner said, that a two-acre plot of his grapes supports zinfandel that is dry farmed, cabernet that is irrigated and sirah that is irrigated only when temperatures rise above 100 degrees. But the St. Helena appellation is also famous for warm — not hot — temperatures, said Bob Dye of Charnu Winery. 'St. Helena is the perfect terroir in which to grow cab,' he said. 'Soils from Sulphur Creek are gravelly, and we have warm days and cool nights. We have balanced cabs — St. Helena cabs don’t typically slap you in the face, they are a bit more elegant.' Elegant was also how David Sabin of Sabina described wines produced here. 'The St. Helena appellation has a more elegant terroir,' he said. 'Vineyard 29, Grace and Colgin Cellars create a bench that’s quite beautiful. It’s all in the ground.' Chris Corley, winemaker for Corley Family Napa Valley, said the St. Helena appellation wines are 'lusher and smoother than Rutherford or Yountville.' Doug Stanton, a third-generation St. Helena vintner, said the St. Helena appellation 'has the right amount of heat, so petite sirah does extremely well here.' Sauvignon blanc also does very well in the St. Helena appellation, especially on the east side close to the Napa River, said Steve Lohr, of J. Lohr, founded in 1972 by Steve’s father. 'We once planted our 1984 cab too close to the river — it was too vigorous — so it is now planted with sauvignon blanc,' said Lohr. Trinchero Napa Valley is making a petite verdot and a cab franc from St. Helena grapes in honor of Mario and Mary Trinchero, who immigrated from Italy to New York before coming to Napa Valley in 1948. 'The valley floor in St. Helena has bigger berries, not as bitter or tannic,' said Rebecca Fine, marketing director for Trinchero. Vintner Tor Kenward, a St. Helena resident for 30 years, said the origins of St. Helena’s soil formed long ago, when 'a big glacier came down on the valley, leaving big rock pits. You have center-cut St. Helena and zinfandel, which says a lot. St. Helena vines have some deep roots. It might be as diverse an appellation as any we have.' He noted that the St. Helena appellation 'has a better canopy — the vines stress out, making a better vineyard.' Steve Goldfarb of Anomaly explained the gravelly soils on the west side of the appellation like this: 'Sulphur Creek got diverted 100 years ago, leaving thousands of years of minerals running through it.' That gravel, coupled with St. Helena’s great climate, created an area ideal for all kinds of grapes. Why doesn’t St. Helena get as much notoriety for quality as its sibling appellations within the Napa Valley family? 'People think of St. Helena as a town, but it actually is the best property in the valley,' Goldfarb said. The appellation, added Peter Mondavi Jr., ' is in the center of the family tree.' 'Some say it’s the best appellation,' said vintner Steve Garvey of Flora Springs. His grandmother, Flora, who recognized the magic hidden beneath the western hills and helped found the Flora Springs Winery in 1978, will be turning 100 this year."

St. Helena Star
Doug Ernst