- Rating: 95 out of 100
- Tasting Fee: $50
- Accepts Reservations: Yes
- Reservation Required: true
Calistoga, CA 94515
Many places in Napa will tout the location and contour of their vineyards / hillsides as reasons they are able to produce great wines. Jericho Canyon is a different beast altogether. If you’re lucky enough to secure a tasting reservation here, you’ll discover a beautiful canyon that seems sculpted by Mother Earth herself for growing amazing fruit. This is one of the reasons why famous wine personalities have either bought their fruit for their own wine (e.g. David Ramey) or work as consultants to help make the Jericho wines (e.g. Michel Rolland). I highly recommend making a 10AM reservation – the morning fog rolling over the top of the hills is an amazing, picturesque scene for photography enthusiasts!
If you are feeling adventurous (and your group is 4 people or less) you can elect to go up into their vineyards on their Polaris (a small 4x4 offroader) as well. Jericho will serve their Sauvignon Blanc and drive you up into the vineyards so you can walk around yourself and get a better vantage points for some postcard-quality pictures.
Unfortunately, when our group arrived on Saturday morning, we discovered that the power lines for the winery had been taken down by some trees. Luckily, our hosts were very resourceful and held our tasting in their wine cave by candlelight. This normally would have made for a very romantic experience, though it was a little wasted on us since we were captivated by the wines and oblivious to everything else. That, and it was a little chilly, so don’t forget to bring a light spring jacket with you!
Our tasting menu consisted of:
- 2016 Sauvignon Blanc ($40)
- Continues to be one of my favorite Sauvignon Blancs in the valley. Fresh, less ripe than the 2015, with neutral oak to round out the body and acidity a bit. A crisper wine for those looking for a good white on a hot day
- 2016 Rose ($40)
- This wine has everything in it – Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Made by puncturing the grapes and letting the juice run. They utilize their lighter and less ripe black grapes, but that leaves it with good acidity and complexity that make this a cerebral rose.
- 2014 Cabernet Franc ($80)
- Jericho released this wine for the first time this year, so it still doesn’t appear on their website. Still has lots of ripe tannin, but a subtle, consistent flavor across the palate. The fruit isn’t fully ripe (more raspberry/strawberry than cherry), but the phenolics are (no pyrazine / green pepper on the palate), making this a fresh red. I’d like to see what this wine becomes once the vines get some age on them - they are still young at ~5 years.
- 2014 Chimera ($110)
- Their 3 red-varietal blend. Bright, floral nose, lots going on with the red fruit, with candied notes coming out more as the wine opens up. High alcohol and tight acid make this feel a little tense. Nothing that some aging can’t massage over time. Though, if you decide to open the bottle early, make sure you decant at least 1-2hr. Great potential.
- 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon ($110)
- Great purity on the nose, tannins are present but smooth already. There is just something about the 2013 vintage that is special – like an added depth and structure which begs you to age it. Still a great joy to drink right now with its lighter, but still powerful profile. For those that think Caymus is a bit too big/heavy, I love recommending this as an alternative, though it is a higher price point.
I recommend seeking out their 2015 Sauvignon Blanc if you can find it - concentrated, dense, a great flavor profile that borders on tropical fruit notes (but settles closer to melon) and great acidity that balances the body of the wine when served chilled. The rose is above average in complexity and the Cabernet Franc has some great potential. The Chimera takes a bit of coaxing to open up in the glass, but I would definitely let it lie for 5+ years before opening. And the Cabernet Sauvignon is a high quality buy at the price point.
A great, personalized experience (only one visiting group is hosted on the property at a time) if you prefer wines with more structure, but in a French way with acidity and tannin contributing in balance, rather than leaving the bulk of the work to the tannins. The wines are also very fresh, have a lighter body, great elegance, and doesn’t overdo it on the ripeness. Again, a great set to start your day with before moving onto more powerful wines. Also note, it’s very hard to come across these bottles on the open market, so a membership allocation is your best bet to lock down continued access to the wines. I have a 3-bottles allocation myself.
I hope you get the chance to enjoy their wines!
Rating: 95 out of 100