This review is a long time coming—for many reasons. I met Lori Budd, co-owner of Dracaena Wines about three years ago. She’s a fellow blogger, a major social media presence, and, as it turns out when I finally met her in real life during the 2017 Bloggers Conference, one of the nicest people.
After tasting the Las Jaras 100% Carignan, I thought it only fitting to try the boys’ expression of the same variety in rosé form. Good news, Burt and Wareheim didn’t simply use “leftover” Carignan—more eloquently referred to as saignée—to craft their rosé. No, the two believe in purposeful winemaking. So, as I posted their general thoughts about the Carignan grape, I’d like to also quote their thoughts on rosé…
General thoughts on rosé… rosé should be fresh and vibrant, delicious and gulpable. You can’t just simply pick grapes earlier for rosé, because the wine will be out of balance. The grapes need to achieve appropriate ripeness for a great rosé. We handpick the grapes early in the morning and get them to the winery as early as possible. We want to minimize skin contact and phenolic extraction. Usually, we want to avoid malo-lactic fermentation, but this year the malo-lactic fermentation finished during primary fermentation.
One of the first grapes that Joel and Eric had to work with was Carignan. It’s a bit of an “oddball” variety, especially for a new label’s first wine. But that’s what they had to work with and, in fact, the first, 2016 vintage of Sweet Berry Wine was 100% Carignan.
I love what Joel has to say about the variety:
General thoughts on Carignan…Carignan is such an intriguing variety for us at Las Jaras. It is juicy, brambly and spicy when it is at its best. At its worst it is tannic, sour, and tastes like cabbage. It can also be quite difficult to grow. They are generally old vines that stand 7-8 feet tall and can be vigorous. The vine is extremely prone to powdery mildew infection, so it needs meticulous canopy management to avoid disaster. Site location is important for this variety to perform at its best. It needs to be on bench land, with properly draining sandy loam soils and a hot climate. This is because the acids can be absolutely searing on this variety, so you need to have it in a place where it can burn off some acid without over-ripening the fruit to get it into balance.
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!
This is my first taste of Kobza Wines, but not my first taste of Ryan Kobza’s wines. He’s winemaker for the previously reviewed Big Sur Vineyards Chardonnay and Big Sur Vineyards red blend. Ryan was kind enough to send me a sampling of wines under his eponymous label and I started with this red blend.
I can’t even put into words how delicious this wine was. It was just a straight up experience drinking this wine. Everything was so in balance, that we just kept pouring glass after glass. I’ll use the word gluggable because, at the end of the day it is. But, oh please do not glug this wine too quickly.