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JFW Hawkeye Mountain Alexander Valley Sonoma County.

Jackson Family Wines (JFW) – Part Two – Redoubtable reds.

Jackson Family Wines (JFW) – Part Two – Redoubtable reds.

Following on from my recent JFW lunch – now for the remaining quartet of JFW redoubtable reds which are as follows:

  • Yangarra High Sands 2006 Grenache
  • Stonestreet Rockfall 2010 Cabernet
  • Mount Brave 2012 Cabernet
  • Cardinale 2012 Cabernet

Yangarra High Sands 2006 Grenache, McLaren Vale, South Australia

High Sands GrenacheGood to see a McLaren Vale Grenache anytime – I’m a fan of both the region and the grape as a straight varietal (especially with some age), and I suspect I’m not alone in this predilection. Not often do I get a chance to quaff a 10 year old Grenache so if the lunch consisted of this wine alone and some delicious slow-cooked lamb I would have been content.

At 15.5% ABV it’s no shrinking violet, rather as Chris Jackson described it in gridiron parlance a ‘line-backer wine’ – a big, burly, brooding but not brutish, boysenberry red that opened up with plum, fig and oodles of black cherry with hints of blackberry on the back palate. Full-bodied with a juicy, jammy mouthfeel and soft tannins it’s drinking well now with another 5 to 7 years ahead of it.

Stonestreet Rockfall 2010 Cabernet – Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California.

Clear ruby red in colour with a nose redolent with cassis, chocolate, tobacco and cedar leading to a full slightly sweet palate of crushed red berries overlaid with plumb. Rich, balanced with fine acid and soft, integrated tannins rounding off to a lingering finish. Will drink well to 2028.

Mount Brave 2012 Cabernet – Mt.Veeder, Napa Valley, California

Mt Brave

Deep ruby to the eye and a little tight-knit initially both on the nose and palate – its plush, ripe extravagant fruit bounced out of the glass on second tasting. An opulent, textural wine with layers of red berries, violets and leafy tobacco backed by silky tannins. Its new oak hid beneath the full-bodied fruit and a touch of graphite lingered on the back palate through to the finish. Cabernet dominant with Merlot and a hint of Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Drink now to 2025 & beyond.

Cardinale_wCardinale 2012 Cabernet – Oakville Napa Valley, California.

Finally, Jay Mc Inerney’s ‘Marilyn Monroe’ wine – born, not in Hollywood but in rocky, mountainous terroir whose character is apparent from first swirl and sniff to last sip. It’s as if Oakville’s peaks add varying dimensions (that’s a tale worth telling for another time). Yes Jay, it’s voluptuous, luxuriant and silky with layers of dark cherry and blue and red fruit with a seamless body and texture. But beyond this opulence is a beautiful, structured, harmonious palate with hints of dark chocolate and earthy, spicy, dark fruit, soft oak and silky, complex tannins leading to a lingering finish. If there was a wine that was of ‘mountains, hillsides and ridges’ as Chis said, this was it. At 14.5ABV it will drink well to 2030.

‘Harmony in extremity’ as Chris put it.

Which in part sums up the point of the lunch, paradoxically the best vintages often come from the worst or most challenging terroir and the best terroir sometimes shines through in the lesser or worst vintages. These JFW wins are what Mike Veseth would call extreme wines. Regardless,they were extremely pleasurable and left me wanting to explore North America more and in so doing unearth some of the JFW history along the way.

With the Jackson family’s Republican connections maybe some of their wines will end up in the White House Cellars alongside an odd Trump vintage or two – now that is an extreme thought!

And yes, I know that the White House does not a wine cellar to speak of, that’s probably got something to do with the legacy of Prohibition.

I look forward to catching up with Chis when he returns to Australia in March, that’s if he can tear himself away from exploring  Tasmania’s cool-climate temptations.

Footnote: As good as the Cardinale was, the WOW wine-of-the-lunch for me was the Yangarra High Sands 2006 Grenache. No down-under bias here, but rather in the belief that, like Gamay, Grenache is under-rated and is still in its infancy in regard to popularity locally, however has enormous potential in the warmer the climes of both McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley.

Just ask Steve Pannell or Toby Bekkers!




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