I’m continuing an exploration of J. Cage Cellars, a small family-run winery in the heart of Sonoma. For a boutique operation, they have a well-rounded portfolio, work with some prestigious vineyards, and produces wines that could easily compete with “better known” names in the wine world. The Beery’s are, in fact, craftsman—and what better way to show off ones winemaking skills than with the art of the blend…

About the Wine: “Some say that the true craft of winemaking comes from blending,” said Roger Beery, owner of J. Cage Cellars. The J. Cage Cellars 2016 Craftsman’s Blend is made of 50% Sangiovese, 40% Zinfandel, and 10% Petite Sirah harvested from Mounts Vineyard in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley AVA in California. The wines were aged in combination neutral French oak barrels and puncheons.

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of J. Cage Cellars 2016 Craftsman’s Blend and breathe in deep, dark florals, damp forest bark, dewy soil, and a hint of black cherry and chocolate. This red blend pours a dusty cranberry-purple, settling into the glass with a deeper-set cranberry center and fading out to a cranberry-pink perimeter.

Initial aromas are, indeed, of cranberry, but also strawberry and red apple—it has a surprisingly fruit-forward nose. Swirl, and find soft, damp florals in the background, a waft of a sea breeze minerality. Inhale deeply to find the wine’s density, the deepness of plum jam. Float the nose away from the glass and find a light herbaceous note reminiscent of flatleaf parsley.

The palate of the J. Cage Cellars 2016 Craftsman’s Blend is soft, cottony, with a strong acidity from start to finish, and a spice-like tingle on the tongue during the finish. Dominant flavors are of black cherry, pomegranant, cranberry, light bramble, and a hint of dry cacao. The finish is slightly drying, but that drying is countered by that lingering acidity.

Food Pairing: I paired the J. Cage Cellars 2016 Craftsman’s Blend with a roasted duck breast served with my “French fusion” rice pilaf. This was an absolutely lovely pairing and it has to do with the way the wine progressed throughout the evening: Tannins and acid co-mingle, softening the texture further, uplifting the fruit flavors, and creating an almost refreshing quality that both balanced out the wine, but also cut through the richness of the dish, thus enhancing the wine-food pairing experience.

More Info: I received the J. Cage Cellars 2016 Craftsman’s Blend as a sample for review. (Cheers Roger!) Price: $35. For more information about J. Cage Cellars, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the J. Cage Cellars website.


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