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Jax Vineyards: A Slice of Napa

Jax collect available in

Great Falls

McLean

Vienna

Napa Valley is a hub from world-renowned Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay among many other varieties, and certain producers show the sense of place and adventurous spirit that has defined Napa Valley since the middle of the 20th century. Below we will examine how Jax approaches their winemaking and what makes their wines staples for us at the Wine Outlet. The wines mentioned below can be found above, and reach out with any additional questions about this stellar winery.

Napa Valley Wine Map from SevenFifty Daily: https://daily.sevenfifty.com/regions/napa-valley/

Brother and sister, Trent and Kimberly Jackson bottled their first wine Napa Valley in 1996 with the help of their father. Early on in their new venture, the Jackson family was able to recruit Kirk Venge who is responsible for some of the most highly coveted cult Napa Cabs. Kirk wanted to capitalize on their ‘sense of place,’ and over the subsequent years, Kirk was able to develop wines that extracted as much quality as they could out of Jax’s amazing vineyard sites. One of these sites was the Jacksons further developed was their grandparents cattle ranch by planting vineyards that showed the variety they were working with, and now these wines are listed as their ‘Y3’ line. So, Jax has managed to retain their smaller sites as well as newer sites that show the essence of superb Napa Valley vines.

Kimberly Jackson-Wickam inspecting vines at her family’s estate from K&L Wines: https://onthetrail.klwines.com/on-the-trail-blog/2016/2/17/jax-vineyards-from-entourage-to-robert-parker

With regard to some of their smaller sites, the 2017 Jax Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a flagship wine for Jax and shows both the power and finesse of Napa Valley Cabernet. Made with 100% hand-picked Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, the Estate Cab is aged in mostly new French Oak for 21 months allowing the tannins to mature and soften. The wine boasts bright red fruits, a dash of vanilla and clove as well as crisp acidity that makes this an ultimate steak wine. Carrying a 92 point rating from Wine Enthusiast, this Cabernet is capable of aging for easily 10-15 more years, and for cult Napa Cabernet fans, this is a must-try.

Moving to the Y3 line, Jax Y3 Taureau Red Blend is names after the family’s prized bull, which is fitting as this is a flavorful and complex wine with a robust structure. Made from 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Syrah, the Y3 Taureau has darker fruit flavors through the addition of Syrah. The wine is peppery, plumy, and silky on the palate and can be paired with a variety of foods. For a more everyday robust red, this a great selection, but this wine can also be cellared for easily 3-5 more years.

Harold and Lois Jackson at the Y3 Cattle Ranch from Cellar Angels: https://www.cellarangels.com/buy-wine-online-jax-vineyard-2018-calesa-vineyard-pinot-noir.html

Last, but certainly not least, in our Jax spotlight is the 2016 Jax Y3 Chardonnay. This Chardonnay is sourced from a single vineyard in Carneros and represents a lighter style of Chardonnay that comes out of California. Chablis is the main inspiration for this style of Chardonnay, with the grapes being fermented in concrete before being aged in neutral oak barrels. What this means is that because the wine is not fermented in oak and because the barrels that it is aged in do not impart any flavor into the wine, what results is a clean and crisp style of Chardonnay with high acidity and a delicacy that can sometimes be lacking in other Napa Valley Chardonnays. If you prefer a more subtle, lean, and medium bodied Chardonnay, this is a great option with a price at a much lower point than 1er Cru Chablis.

Tasting Recap

Thank you to all those who joined us for the tasting with Dan Parrott of Jax Vineyards, and if you happened to be busy, then not to worry! We have the tasting posted to our YouTube channel, so you can have Dan’s expertise at your fingertips. Next time you pour a glass of Jax, click on a clip while you sip!

During our tasting, Dan launched into a discussion of the unique sites, style, and approach to wine that Jax vineyards carries with it. Some of this is examined above; however, check out this video for additional information and visuals from Dan about the Y3 label, the sites in California, and what makes this family owned business a great and rarer one in Napa Valley. Our first wine is the 2016 Jax Y3 Chardonnay. Dan describes how this Chardonnay challenges some commonly held assumptions about California Chardonnay. This wine is not the big buttery, ambient smell of a movie theater type of Chardonnay. Dan shows us how the vinification methods such as cool fermentation, concrete tank fermentation, and neutral oak aging contributes to a lean, high acid, crisp Chardonnay that is Chablis-like in its profile. The wine is truly mouthwatering, and Burgundy drinkers will find this wine extremely familiar!

Up next in the tasting is the 2017 Y3 Taureau red blend. Our discussion largely focused on the blend of the wine, and Dan highlights certain characteristics that each of the three grapes bring out in the wine. The Merlot brings rounds and more red fruit driven flavors, the Cabernet brings a darker fruit profile along with tannin and acidic structure, and the Syrah brings peppery notes and a backbone for the wine to show personality year-over-year. Dan challenges consumers to drive up and down highway 29 and find him a “$20 wine, first of all, and then find me a $20 wine that’s 90 points.” This is truly a bang for your buck wine, and we are excited for its new label next year!

Finally, we come to the 2017 Estate Cabernet. This wine is big, bold, and delicious. As the wine is grown “directly from our front yard,” Dan describes how the blend may change year-over-year, but the 2017 vintage is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Also, Dan shares a story about how this wine almost never existed. “This was the year that everyone around us lost their house…luckily the fire was on a Tuesday and we picked on Saturday…” We are certainly glad the grapes for this wine were spared, and this will please any Napa Cab drinker’s palate. The great achievement of this wine is drinking better than some wines that start to approach the $100 mark. Jax has been able to keep its Cabernet prices down at more consumer-friendly levels while other producers have been steadily increasing their prices. Look for this bottle to over-deliver in complexity, and we can’t wait for you to give it a try. Thank you once again to Dan for his expertise, and be sure to check out the wines linked above! Cheers!

As noted, these wines are available through the links above. Happy sipping and cheers!

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