Friday, March 11, 2011

JAQK Comes Back With Sauvignon Blanc, It's Charmed!

Another wine from JAQK Cellars, who've produced a cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and a merlot that I have loved (and reviewed) already. The bottle of chardonnay they sent me turned out to be corked unfortunately, so that will not be reviewed. I say that not to blame the wine maker or winery, merely to point out the single biggest problem with cork closures.

The 2008 JAQK "Charmed" Sauvignon Blanc though, was delightful and much appreciated by my dinner guests last week. Since I cooked a hearty chicken and tomato dish, I chose a red wine to pair with it but needed a white wine to appease my friends Karen and Sabina. This was sitting in my wine fridge and I had wanted a chance to open it since last month, the result was wonderful.

To go down a different path for a moment, I really admire the JAQK Cellars packaging. Their labels are great to look at and unconventional, yet remain easy to decipher. For the non-wine-geek, making sense of all the letters and numbers on a label is intimidating and may lead to choosing generic, bland wines. I'm not saying that a flashy label makes up for shitty juice though, just that a fun but legible way to tell consumers what's in the bottle remains something the wine industry needs to work on. Honestly, what the hell does a bounding kangaroo tell me about what's inside the bottle?

Getting back on track, I tasted the sauvignon blanc at about 58 degrees F and made my tasting notes, then chilled it for my two friends. I'll also explain my impressions after the wine spent 30 minutes in an ice bucket and I tasted it again.

Bright tropical fruit and citrus on the nose, the subtlest hints of perfume and a dash of oak too. Smooth and crisp, I hit on guava, nectarine and grapefruit flavors along with a tiny bit of vanilla manifesting as a richer, deeper note on the finish. I liked the balance struck between a fresh, vibrant style and a lusher, more fleshy style. According to the JAQK website, their 2008 Charmed spent six months in oak, sur lie. Lees are leftover (dead) yeast cells and bits of grape skins, seeds and stems that float around in the wine after fermentation. If you leave the wine unfined, the intent is to give it a fleshier mouth-feel and texture, generally speaking of course. In some cases, this is done with sauvignon blanc to balance out the varietal's naturally high acidity. There was no malo-lactic fermentation on the 2008 JAQK Charmed, meaning that there was no buttery or buttered popcorn flavor to be found, much to my delight. While I do enjoy some malo-lactic treatment, in my opinion it's far overused in California.

Tasted after being chilled for 30 minutes, the acidity was much more pronounced, in addition to a stronger citrus and guava note, the perfume though had disappeared. I was still able to make out a bit of oak on the finish but that wasn't distracting and enhanced the experience.

My friends Karen and Sabina really enjoyed this wine, and used words like "bright", "dry", "fruity", and "really good!" to describe it. I asked them to guess the suggested retail price and both of them said "about $20". Since they aren't wine drinkers, I suspect they tried to game me since they know a bit about what I pay for wine. Then again the JAQK Charmed Sauvignon Blanc is listed at $19 but I've found it for a low as $13, which turns it into a QPR monster.

My friends and I enjoyed the wine, food, and conversation. They even tasted my red selections but found them to be "bitter", "strong", "rough"..Music to my wine-geek ears I suppose! Considering the JAQK offering, it's an easy B+ from me and if you see it, pick up a bottle or two. Some suggested pairings would be chicken and pasta, turkey burgers, pesto pizza and your loved ones.

This wine was a media sample.

Beau Carufel

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