Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pretty wine from a pretty winemaker

Jennifer Wall is probably the prettiest winemaker you'll ever meet. She's also one of the most awarded. "I'm the most awarded female winemaker in the country," she told me proudly ofver a glass of her spectacular 2007 J. Lynne Single Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay during a recent visit to the Vine Tastings wine bar in downtown Windsor, California. "I'm also the most awarded winery in the under $15 dollar range!"

Jennifer is no neophyte in the winemaking business. Even though barely into her 40s,she's been the winemaker at Barefoot Cellars since 1995 and, with her husband Mike, who doubles as a fire chief for the Sonoma Fire Department, conceptualized the idea for her own label of J. Lynne Wines in 2001. The winery is planning for the upcoming harvest while at the same time tending to the 2008 vintage wines. While at Vine Tastings, we sampled a barrel tasting of the 2008 Single Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay, which had just been pulled out of the barrel with a wine thief. "You'll notice that the wine is very cloudy. That's the way Chardonnay is before its been refined. But you can still discern its rich varietal character and see that the wine has a lot of promise. We'' be bottling this over the next month or so. We'll only make about 600 cases of this wine and its already been sold out!"

Even in its young state, tne wine showed a lot of potential. It had a sweet, rounded mouth feel and displayed a great deal of fruit on the nose. A citrus nose gave way to hints of rosemary and a touch of nutmeg. This is wine that begs for accompaniment with food. Thai and Indian cuisine or a bit of Sushi with Brazilian spice would do the trick. "I use oak, but its only there to lift the wine, not change its delineation. I think people want to taste the true varietal character. They want to know what they're drinking, not have it taste like something else!"

The most exciting thing about J. Lynne wines,is the price to value ratio. Each of the wines sells in the $15 to $22 range and can stand side-by-side with wines costing two to three times as much.The 2007 Two vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is one of the best Ive ever tasted.

"People like to drink wines that are varietally correct. So when I make a Pinot Noir, I don't blend it with anything! In fact, when you go through the vineyards and taste the grapes and you put them into seperate barrels for aging. Its amazing what you come up with. You'll taste the wines and realize how completely different they are. When I make the final blend, its truly amazing." After a deep sniff and a healthy gulp from the glass, Jennifer declares. "This wine is really pretty!" No other word could describe it. J. Lynne Wines are available in limited released in fine restaurants and wine shops. They can also be ordered online. For more information on J. Lynne Wines visit

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