Monday, October 26, 2009

Jessup Cellars Juel 2006 Napa Valley Red Wine

Recently I had the opportunity to make a second visit to the Jessup Cellars tasting room in Yountville to pick up some more of their very good wines. My main objective was to simply buy some of their Merlot, but while I was there I also picked up a few bottles of their Juel 2006, which is a Bordeaux style blend that I did not get an opportunity to taste on my first visit. This past weekend I had the right occasion to open this excellent wine and enjoy it.

Jessup Cellars is one of those many little known gems that are sprinkled throughout Napa Valley. Jessup was started by winemaker Mark Jessup in 1996, after a couple decades of experience making wine for other wineries. Mark is a Napa Valley native, who started in the cellar at Inglenook over 30 years ago. From there he went to work for Robert Mondavi Winery, where he worked closely with Tim Mondavi on their reserve wines as well as on the Opus One joint venture between Mondavi and Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Now he is putting that experience to work at Jessup with some very nice results. Their tasting room is a fantastic space not only to taste some fine wines, but also to see some outstanding artwork by Northern California artists. Grant and Sarah in the tasting room were wonderful hosts and very knowledgeable, and they were kind enough to accommodate me right at closing time. Unfortunately they do not distribute, and the only way to get their wines is in the tasting room or by joining their wine club.

The 2006 Juel is a wine made in the Bordeaux style, and in particular Jessup is going for something in the Right Bank style. Merlot is the predominant grape in this blend, but there are also significant amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Aged for 20 months in French oak barrels, the wine shows a very nice purple-red color in your glass. The nose brings wonderful aromas of black cherry, blackberry, and black raspberry, with much more of the same fruit flavors on the palate. Along with the fruit, you also get a hint of mocha and some mild earthiness on the nice, long finish. Firm tannins and a bit of pleasant acidity round out this very nice Bordeaux style blend. If Mark Jessup is truly looking to make wine in the French style, he has hit the mark with this offering.

The Juel 2006 was perfect with my grilled tenderloin with shallot demi-glace (recipe can be found here ), and it would complement just about any steak or grilled venison beautifully. Priced at $89, it’s not necessarily an outstanding value but certainly a good one. It’s a very good and very well structured wine. Cheers!

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