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.
Sip on a red wine and taste voluptuous, jammy fruits, a delicate acidity and just a backbone of tannin, and you may think at least three different varietals and I bet none of them would be a Napa Cabernet. Indeed, I had my partner in wine crime taste this blind and his brain went from Zinfandel, to Shiraz, and then settled on a rusty “Pinot Noir,” before saying that whatever it is, it’s definitely not a Cab. Oh how wrong you’d be and how wrong he was. I’m loving the innovation of the new generation of Napa winemakers—even those who have been in the business for years are evolving into this notion of “fresh fruit ripeness,” picking slightly earlier, using minimal intervention winemaking techniques, and ultimately crafting Napa Cabernet that can age elegantly for decades…but are completely gluggable now.
I was so glad when a friend gifted me this wine. Mostly because I’ve previously reviewed this little-known winemaker and think he’s one of northern California wine country’s best kept secrets. Managing his own 8.5 acre vineyard site in Marin County, winemaker Stewart Johnson can now proudly claim the Petaluma Gap AVA on his bottles, since it became California’s newest AVA about 6 months ago. All of that put together, I was eager to “catch up” with Stew via his wine…