Jarvis Wine Seminar

Jarvis Wine Review
The seven wines tasted at tonight's Jarvis Wine Seminar

Tonight, I had the pleasure of attending a wine seminar for Jarvis wines. If you haven't heard of Jarvis before, it is a small production winery in Napa Valley, CA. We had seven wines in total, two whites and five reds, and one thing that all the wines had in common was a delicate balance of complexity and subtlety.

We started with two Chardonnays side by side, the 2010 Jarvis Chardonnay and the 2010 Jarvis Chardonnay "Finch Hollow." I am not a fan of most California Chardonnay, I don't like oak to mess with my white wine. I have to give Jarvis credit for both flavor and restraint. In neither wine was the oak overpowering, rather it did exactly what it is supposed to, lending a soft butteriness that was very nice, if not my style. The regular Chardonnay was more acidic than the "Finch Hollow," and it had a refreshing softness I found quite nice. The "Finch Hollow" was far more Burgundian in style, richer, yet supple and flavorful. Both were excellent examples of what I wish more California wineries would do with Chardonnay.

Next we moved on to the biggest surprise of the night for me, the 2009 Jarvis Merlot. I don't have the distaste for Merlot I once had, but I still find most Merlot to be fruit forward at first, then woody, lacking the power or substance to stand on it's own.  Other than right bank Bordeaux where Merlot is the featured grape in the blend, I don't drink much of it. The Jarvis Merlot was so unexpected because there was a lush ripeness to the wine, cherry fruit with vanilla spice, not a huge wine, but very flavorful with good complexity. I was not expecting it and I was very pleasantly surprised.

From there we moved on to the wine I was most excited to try, the 2007 Jarvis Cabernet Franc. I am a big fan of Cabernet Franc, it's more feminine, softer and more aromatic than Cabernet Sauvignon and I usually find them irresistibly delicious or just plain terrible. I had read many good things about Jarvis' Cab Franc, and was giddy as they poured my glass. It did not disappoint, and in fact typified what I love about the grape. Definite red currant and smoke with soft tannins and a long finish. Probably my favorite wine of the night, maybe not the greatest or most complex, that was still to come, but for my palate, the most delicious.

Now it was time for the big boys. We had the 2006 Jarvis Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, then the 2007 Jarvis "Lake William" Blend, and finished with the 2005 Jarvis Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. All three held what I am now considering the Jarvis trademark of complexity and restraint. All three were lovely, but not remarkable. Beautiful, well made wines, with concentrated fruit, but somehow underwhelming. Probably because of the price point. All three were more than $100 with the reserve coming in at almost $200. Jarvis wine will cost you, and for that kind of money I want something more than a well-made wine from wonderful grapes, I want something special.

All in all, it was a lovely evening. Snacks and cheese plates (oh how I love good cheese!) were provided for enjoying with the wine and I was more than happy I went. I honestly liked every single wine I tasted and I'll be keeping my eyes out for Jarvis wines in the future. And from what I learned about the winery (they've literally tunneled their own cave and transformed a stream into a waterfall) it is now on my list to visit on my next trip to Napa.

Plate of accompaniments served with the wine.

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