Jax Vineyards Y3 Pinot Noir 2015
The brother sister duo were inpsired by their father, David who purchased a 28-year old, dry-farmed Calistoga vineyard in 1995. David had no intention of venturing beyond being a vintner. However, his children had different ideas.
Shortly after David purchased the vineyard, his son Trent made his first attempt to make his first vintage by hand picking a second harvest from father's vineyard. Produced and bottled in his San Francisco garage, his first vintage turned out to be less than stellar. Undaunted, Trent initially partnered with winemaker Gary Galleron for 4 years and now they work with Kirk Venge as their winemaker.
Shortly thereafter, sister Kimberly returned with an MBA from Vanderbilt to join the business. Together the two realized that there was a great opportunity to produce high quality wines, with a chic label, and fair price point. After co-founding the wine club in graduate school, they realized that the next generation is looking for a modern brand, great quality, and a good story.
We started Y3 under JAX in 2005 after we continually sold out of the limited JAX Cabernet Sauvignon. We quickly realized that the time had come to branch out into additional varietals although we did not own vineyards other than those growing Cabernet Sauvignon. As such we decided to launch JAX Y3 representing our varietals that we source from outside vineyards from exceptional appellations for each varietal. This gives us the luxury and liberty to continue the quest to seek the very BEST vineyards for each varietal that we carry under the Y3 label.
A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, the Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river that flows through it. While there are warm pockets of the AVA, it is mostly a cool-climate growing region thanks to breezes and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in Russian River, with the best examples demonstrating a unique combination of richness and restraint. The cool weather makes Russian River an ideal AVA for sparkling wine production, utilizing the aforementioned varieties. Zinfandel also performs exceptionally well here. Within the Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. The former, farther from the ocean, is relatively warm, with a focus on red and white Bordeaux varieties. The latter is the coolest, foggiest parcel of the Russian River Valley and is responsible for outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.