Kansas winemaker Jennifer McDonald is on the fast-track to breaking the mid-west winemaking mold. The young woman made wines at home and worked on her business plan for 4 years before releasing her inaugural vintages of her Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. And with the opening of her downtown Witchita winery just around the corner, she looks forward to increasing her portfolio to include Moscato, a Red Blend, a single-varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and even a Fruit Blend made from local Kansas produce.

McDonald calls herself a huge advocate for entrepreneurship. Her personal motto is “Have faith and never give up!”

Read more of Jenny’s story here.

About the Wine: The Jenny Dawn Cellars 2016 Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from the Santa Rita Hills AVA in California’s Santa Barbara County and created with a partner winery located in Napa Valley, California. The grapes were fermented and aged in French oak barrels (100% neutral) after which the wine went through secondary, malolactic fermentation. The wine then continued to age, racked only once prior to bottling.

McDonald developed the blend and final taste of the Pinot Noir, but partnered with Napa local Eric Hanson, who acted as head winemaker.

13.8% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Jenny Dawn Cellars 2016 Pinot Noir and breathe in bright aromas of red raspberries and strawberry preserves. This Pinot Noir is a very light red-violet on the pour: you can nearly see through it as it flows elegantly from bottle to glass. In the glass, the wine presents just as faint — almost rosé-like — in fact, it’s quite reminiscent of a pinot rosso I had in Venice, both visually and aromatically.

Initial aromas are of cran-strawberry juice with a good level of acidity — so swirl. Swirl and enliven those fruit scents further: now you can differentiate the cranberry from the strawberry. Nose all the way in, deep inhale — do you smell it? Fresh rain water and the dew drops dangling from every berry on the bush.

Jenny Dawn’s Pinot Noir is quite delicate. The palate presents such a light body, maintaining that refreshing, juice-like quality found on the nose. Dominant flavors are of cranberries, blood orange, a hint of anise, and just a bit of ground clove spice in the background. While the tannins are nearly negligible, the acidity sneakily increases, leaving a lingering tingle on the tongue and interior of the lips.

Food Pairing: I paired my Jenny Dawn Cellars 2016 Pinot Noir with pan-fried black cod served with roasted butternut squash, fennel, and shallots served with crispy-kale garnish. What I loved was that the earthiness of the vegetables highlighted the brightness of the fruit flavors and yet, somehow (perhaps the texture) also brought forward just a touch more tannin toward the finish, giving the wine a bit more weight and body. A well-balanced meal to be sure and I would happily re-create this pairing again.

More Info: I received the Jenny Dawn Cellars 2016 Pinot Noir as a sample for review. (Cheers Jenny!) Retail: $50. For more information about Jenny Dawn Cellars, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Jenny Dawn Cellars website.


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