Wednesday, November 11, 2015

J Vineyards' Bubble Room - An Exciting Wine & Food Experience in Sonoma

If you’re traveling through Sonoma and looking for a memorable wine and culinary experience, you must check out the Bubble Room at J Vineyards.

One of the most well-known sparkling wine producers in Sonoma, J Vineyards & Winery is located off Old Redwood Highway near Healdsburg. They also produce some still Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, a delicious Russian River appellation Pinot Noir and a few exciting single-vineyard Pinots from selected spots in the Russian River.
The winery and tasting room offer up your basic wine tasting scenario, as well as a tour-tasting combo. But if you want the best possible experience, plan ahead and reserve a spot at the Bubble Room.  (Open Thursday-Sunday, 11 am-3 pm)

Chef Erik serves some fresh, local olive oil to
J Vineyards' new winemaker Nicole Hitchcock
Here, in a glass-enclosed area abutting the main tasting room, chef Erik Johnson works his magic. The Bubble Room offers a five-course lunch paired with J's wines for a tremendously reasonable $75 (considering the quality of the food, wine and venue). It's a simple concept: pairing local food with estate wines. But the food and the wines are anything but simple.

Using hyper-local ingredients, Chef Erik Johnson crafts complex but suave dishes to pair with the wines. The menu changed every six weeks in order to incorporate the seasonal harvests. During my meal, I asked him which ingredient came from farthest away, and where it came from. He thought a few seconds before saying, “Um, Petaluma?”

The winery itself is sleek, steely and ultra-modern, and I got the impression that no expenses were spared in the construction. The food preparation and presentation is precise and superbly executed, making it a perfect match for the overall aesthetic of the winery itself.

My notes on the wines are detailed below.
2008 J Vineyards & Winery Brut Rosé - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
Biscuity nose with yellow apples, almonds, red apples and minerals. Crisp, clean and quite complex, as the orange, red and yellow apple peels play well off the complex almond and toasted biscuit flavors. The five years aging on the lees has imbued this with a deep sense of fresh baked bread. Quite long and persistent with a bright, mineral-crusted finish. (88 points)

SRP: $17
Floral and full of tropical fruit (guava, pineapple) aromas with some honey as well. Plump texture, the richness of that Central Valley fruit (yellow plums, pineapple, guava paste) mixes with some brightness and lighter floral tones, ends up being relatively clean and fresh. Simple, but well done. (85 points)

My lunch theme was "An Ode to Squash" and this soup with roasted vegetables was delicious.
2013 J Vineyards & Winery Chardonnay Estate - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $28
Smells of baked pears, rich yellow apples, hints of sea salt mix with a sweet vanilla note. Creamy on the body with lovely richness yet bright acid for balance keeps the wine together. Lovely pears and baked apple, dusted with nougat, honeycomb, almond and vanilla. Smooth and silky finish. A richer style but stays bright and offers a good dose of complexity. (90 points)

2013 J Vineyards & Winery Pinot Noir Bow Tie Vineyard Russian River Valley - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $65
So lovely on the nose: deep flowers, juicy raspberries and cherries, some cola, clove and dusty earth. Bright acid combines with a rich texture on the palate, making this wine pure and vibrant. Tangy red cherries, silky red plums, strawberry jam, the fruit is mixed with complex earth and savory aspects. Some cedar and chestnut woven in quite nicely. Aged 13 months in 30% new French oak. (91 points)

N.V. J Vineyards & Winery Cuvée 20 - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $28
Smells of sweet pears and oranges along with pie crust and buttered biscuits. Ripe and slightly sweet with juicy pears and peach fruit, helped by some clean acid. I get hints of minerals and sea breeze as well. A reliable bubbly that would please many a palate. If you see any J wine in a store, it will likely be this bottle, which is their best seller (and for good reason). (87 points)

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