Unlike many of you, I was unaware of Las Jaras Wine brand having never watched the show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! But like many others of you, I came into contact with the brand through Instagram.
For those who are still unfamiliar, in 2017, Eric Wareheim, co-creator and co-star of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, a comedy show that ran on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim from 2007 to 2010, released a wine based around one of the show’s sketches. The name, the label art and the wine’s initial popularity all centered around a character played by actor John C. Reilly. The sketch features Reilly as the character Dr. Steve Brule, slobbering down glass after glass of red wine. “What kind of wine are you drinking?” asks co-star Tim Heidecker, playing TV anchor Jan Skylar. “Sweet berry wine!” answers Reilly.
Las Jaras is now celebrating their second vintage. So I caught up with winemakers Joel and Eric to learn their personal story, branding techniques, and outlook for the future of Las Jaras wine. You can read the full story here: Burt and Wareheim Awesome Wine, Great Job!
Joel and Eric were kind enough to send me a few samples in conjunction with the article. So I jumped right in and started with the obvious suspect…SWEET BERRY WINE!
About the Wine: The Las Jaras Wines 2017 Sweet Berry Wine is made of 49% Carignan (Gary Venturi vineyard in Calpella, Mendocino County), 39% Zinfandel (Zeller Vineyard in Redwood Valley, Mendocino County), 17% Cabernet Sauvignon (Burger’s Oak Shade Ranch in Goulding, Sonoma Mountain district of Sonoma County), and 5% Charbono (also Gary Venturi in Calpella, Mendocino County).
All fruit was hand-picked at harvest with each variety undergoing its own separate winemaking process. Carignan, Zinfandel, and Cabernet were hand sorted at the crusher and underwent all native fermentation in open-top fermenters. The Carignan included 50% whole cluster, drained and pressed just before maximum dryness and aged in neutral French oak barrels (combination 600L demi muids and 228L Burgundy barrels). The Cabernet and Zinfandel were each 100% destemmed, drained, and pressed to complete dryness, then aged in combination new and used French barrels (225L Bordeaux). The Zinfandel was aged in neutral French oak (600L demi muids). The Charbono underwent carbonic maceration, with whole clusters placed in open-tanks with dry ice. The temperature was set to 65°F and 20 gallons of fermenting rosé was added to generate the CO2. The tan was sealed and untouched for 14 days.
When ready to press, Las Jaras used a horizontal bladder press. Juice was then fermented in stainless steel tank and transferred at dryness to age in neutral French oak (228L Burgundy) barrels. One month before bottling, all wine was racked and blended then returned to barrels until two days before bottling when the wine was racked clean to tank.
Bottled without filtration
Flavor Profile: Joel recommends decanting this wine for at least an hour, so that’s exactly what I did. Aromas that come out of the bottle as you pour are of damp, warm soil, chocolate, humid midnight air. Something about it is reminiscent of a California GSM.
The wine is quite jewel-like in its maroon hue as it flows from decanter into the glass and is already quite aromatic. Once in the glass, the wine maintains that same maroon core, but fades out to a cranberry-pink around the outermost perimeter.
Initial aromas from the glass are of jammy black berries, dark herbs, macerated cranberries. Swirl and engage a deep floral aroma of dark red, almost black roses; dark herbs, like basil; with a fresh acidity that enliven those fruits—black cherry, boysenberry, cranberry—out of their cooked-down jamminess and into the garden ready to be plucked from the bush.
The palate of the Sweet Berry Wine is grippy with tannins. There’s a piercing acidity, boistrous fruit flavors seasoned with warmed spices. The finish is a crazy sensation—the tongue is left both tacky and tingling with tannin and tartness. Dominant flavors are of soft oak wood, sour cherry, tart plum, underripe blackberry, raw cranberry, a background of unsweetened cacao and just a hint of flint.
Food Pairing: I paired the Las Jaras Wines 2017 Sweet Berry Wine with, well, a pizza. Because I didn’t really know what to expect and I feel like pizza is a great backdrop for a new wine—bread, cheese, vegetables, what else do you really need when you’re experimenting with wine, right?
Of course the wine paired well. It’s pizza for goodness sake. But I will say this, Joel is right. The wine absolutely opens up over the course of the evening: tannins become plushier, more cottony than grippy; the fruit flesh seems to melt into the skins; the palate becomes more of a cohesive journey from sip to swallow. That being said, you could easily age this wine for at least the next five to eight years.
More Info: I received the Las Jaras Wines 2017 Sweet Berry Wine as a gift. (Cheers Eric and Joel!) MSRP: For more information about Las Jaras, their wines and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Las Jaras Wines website.
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