Recently I had the opportunity to taste wine from a couple of great California wineries that I have been fairly familiar with over the past few years.
Justin Winery from Paso Robles, and Matchbook wines from Zamora have both been on my radar screen for some time. I wrote up Matchbook in a past article a little over a year ago, and I have had Justin Wines a time or two when traveling in California on business. I was excited to get the opportunity to try these vintages and let you know a little more about them.
Located in the Central Coast area of California, Justin Vineyards and Winery was founded in 1981 by Justin Baldwin, with 160 acres of Bordeaux grape vineyards. The area that Justin chose for his winery holds huge winemaking tradition. Grapes were first grown there in 1779 by Fransican Friars. Paso Robles is now the largest group of vineyards, measuring 600,000 acres of planted land, in the largest AVA in California. Their specialty in that region is world-class Cabernet Sauvignon.
Justin’s winemaker is Fred Holloway. His resume reads somewhat as a who’s who in California Wines, with time spend at many influential wineries over the last 28 years. His experience has brought him many 90 plus scores from Robert Parker and Wine Spectator over the years.
The wine that I got to try was the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Artist Label. As with most artist series wines, the label each year celebrates each new vintage with a new artist’s work. The art on the label for this 2009 vintage features rolling farm land and houses by artist Michele Bleech.
This Cabernet Sauvignon is rich with dark fruit and vanilla on the nose. It features a deep, ruby-red color that shows the time that the wine was left on the skins. The flavors are rich with blackberry, vanilla, and cassis. A great wine to be enjoyed with a nice fillet, or like I enjoyed it, all by itself while sitting next to the fire in my studio.
The second bottle that I enjoyed was from the Matchbook winery label. The Giguiere family from Zamora, California has been producing wines since 1983 under a label that they took to the moon. The R.H. Phillips brand was their baby, producing great wines such as Toasted Head and EXP. They sold to Vincor in 2000, and John Giguiere worked as CEO of Vincor until 2005. The family started Matchbook, Mossback, Chasing Venus, and Sawbuck, which I’ve written about in other articles.
I was excited to try Matchbook’s “King”, in their 2007 Tinto Rey. This red table wine is the Giguiere’s favorite wine and I’ve been looking forward to trying it for some time.
A mix of 44% Temperanillo, 36% Syrah, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Graciano and 2% Petite Syrah make this wine a huge combination of Spanish and Bordeaux varietals. The Spanish varietals give off huge flavors of spicy red berries, with black cherry and blueberry coming from the Syrah, Cedar and rummy tobacco runs from the flavors of the Cabernet Sauvignon, with tannic structure and pepper coming from the Petite Syrah.
This wine is beautifully complicated, with aromas and flavors from beginning to the very end of the finish. Enjoy with any kind of red meat. I followed the suggestion from the winery and made lamb pops with rosemary and garlic. It was ooooh so good!