This past Saturday, the Virginia Wine Club was treated to a wonderful tasting of wines from J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines (Twitter).
The event was held at Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro (Twitter and featured Jerry Humphreys, a co-owner and the Mid-Atlantic regional manager as well as Ashleigh Sabold the DC Metro area manager.
We sampled 5 single-vineyard wines that evening: 2009 Carol's Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 Wildflower Valdigue, 2008 Fog's Reach Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2007 Hilltop Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and an amazing, rare, 2006 Late Harvest Riesling. As usual, Jason peppered us with meat, cheeses and other amazing appetizers that were excellent complements to the wine.
Jerry did a really good job of intertwining the history of the vineyard with the wine tastings. This meant there wasn't a point in the evening where he was blandly reciting facts about the winery, instead he tied the history to the wine. And there is a lot of history. J. Lohr has more than 3000 acres under vine, the bulk of which are in Paso Robles. They have been making wines since 1972 when Jerry purchased his first 208 acre plot in Monterey County.
J. Lohr also has the largest solar array attached to any winery. The solar array generates more than 75% of the power at their Paso Robles facility and is a tourist attraction in and of itself.
The wines were all excellent, but two in particular stood out: The 2009 Wildflower Valdigue is a light red that is surprisingly refreshing. Originally thought to be part of the Gamay family, it was later identified by scientists at UC Davis as Valdique. Similar to Gamay, the Valdique has a light, berry-filled flavor and is really good chilled. Its a good summer wine, especially if you prefer reds.
The 2006 Late Harvest Riesling is a very rare wine. Conditions in the vineyards have to be perfect for botrytis to kick in and give the fruit the necessary sugar and push them in to the late harvest. The last time this happened was in 2006. Prior to 2006 the only other time it happened was in 1995. That's a long time between vintages. Using botrytis to add sugar to the fruit, is similar to the methods used by winemakers in Sauternes. Like Sauternes wines, this wine can be aged and improves with time.
The wine itself is very silky, with aromas of apricot and pairs. It has a crisp taste to it that was not syrupy, despite the 10.3% residual sugar.
It was a great evening all around!