Just Tasted // 2005 Justin Zinfandel Paso Robles, California
If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit Paso Robles, California, then it’s one for the bucket list! Rolling hills as far as the eye can see, breathtaking sunsets, incredible wineries and a killer food scene are just a few of the things Paso Robles has to offer! In terms of wineries, we’re talking Turley Wine Cellars, Treana, Denner Vineyards, JLohr Vineyards, Halter Ranch, and of course Justin Winery, just to name a few.
We found ourselves in Paso about a year or so ago, with our good friends E & J, and it was incredible! From the farmhouse we rented, set out amid rural farmland and vineyards to our day spent tasting at a handful of delicious wineries. The trip was one for the books! Oh, and we had lunch at this great restaurant in downtown Paso Robles, that I cannot stop dreaming about! Their Bloody Mary was life-altering!
I’d show you pictures of it all, but as luck would have it, the photos have gone missing. My heart is broken!
I think we may have stopped at 4-5 different wineries that weekend, but I’m still reminiscing over the tasting we had at Justin Winery.
It takes some time to get there, but the drive is beautiful and highly worth it. Upon arrival, you are greeted by a modern, farm-house styled tasting room complete with a magnificent restaurant and the Just Inn. Surrounding the buildings are vast estate vineyards as far as the eye can see, giving you that feeling of Tuscany rather than the dry “deserts” of California.
Being a busy Saturday, we were out of luck to find a cozy table out on their sun-soaked patio, so we settled for the ledge flanking the outdoor tasting bar. It worked out in our favor as we spent some decent time tasting so many amazing wines from a gentleman we were pretty sure looked like Jesus. No joke! We thoroughly enjoyed every moment – so much that E & J signed up for the membership program and purchased a serious case or two of wine. And of course we picked up the two 2005 Justin Zinfandel, along with a few other bottles. What I wouldn’t give to go back there right now!
We’ve been a bit worried about opening up our 2005 Justin Zinfandel. He recently went through a big move across country, getting shipped along with our other wines. This can be terrifying! You never know what could happen and how it will affect an older wine. A little while back a wine friend has mentioned it may be wise to open him sooner than later. So with all of that in mind, we decided to break him out and enjoy him in all of his glory! Here’s what our 2005 Justin Zinfandel brought to the table (remember, these are just my opinions and are not the exact representation of this wine. Each person’s palate is different and brings a unique input into the tasting experience):
2005 Justin Zinfandel Paso Robles, California
Sight: a rich garnet color
Smell: this wine has an incredible nose to it. Deep black pepper, cranberry jam and spice hit you followed by soft eucalyptus, ripe apricots, a basket of black cherries and blackberris and oddly enough – rubber bands. There’s also a hint of sugared violets hanging around.
Taste: due to it’s age, the palate has mellowed a bit. However, it speaks differently than the usual Zinfandel that tends to act “bold” due to it’s moderate tannins, high acidity and high alcohol levels. This 2005 Zinfandel has a graceful, easy nature to it, giving way to tart black cherry, cranberry, plum, juicy blackberry and rich spice. On the finish you get a smoky tobacco and vanilla that lingers just perfectly. It’s everything a Zinfandel should be, but it doesn’t demand your attention and overkill your palate with buckets of candied fruit. Drinking this bottle was a lovely experience and I wish I had been there from the start to see it age, opening a bottle every few years to follow along in it’s story.
Digging deeper: like so many great wines, they all come with a wonderful and unique story. I reached out to Justin Winery to discover more about the painting of the building on the wine’s label and their Sommelier, Jim Gerakaris replied with some delightful insight into this wine and the region of Paso Robles itself…
The artwork on the 2005 Zinfandel was done by Anne Laddon, a local San Luis Obispo county artist. It is a representation of the ISOSCELES Center here at the JUSTIN Winery in Paso Robles. This building houses our 33,000 square foot barrel cellar which consists of our Barrel Chai immediately attaches to the building and approximately 16,000 ft2 dug into the hill behind the Chai. The building also houses our Wine Society Members’ lounge where we entertain our wine club members on weekends and some of our staff offices. This label shows the building as it existed at the time. Within the last five years, the color scheme of the building has changed from the colorful yellow and red to reflect a more modern motif pictured today on this blustery and thankfully rainy Winter’s day.
Our Zinfandel is a small production wine of a only a hundred cases or so that we produce each year to honor the Paso Robles hundred plus year tradition of producing wines made from the zinfandel grape. In contrast to the general reputation in the area of Zinfandel being made in a bigger, mouth filling and rustic style, this vintage of Zinfandel was more classic with more moderate alcohol and a judicious use of new american oak, about 25% new that helps make the wine a more elegant version of this variety, especially over the time that this wine has been in bottle.
In the past fifty years, the Paso Robles region has grown and established itself as a quality producer of wines made from Bordeaux derived grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot in which we specialize, and more recently with Rhone varieties such as Syrah, and Grenache. Within the last twenty years, Paso Robles has established itself as an established quality wine producing region of wide acclaim and has become a popular wine tourism destination.
– Jim Gerakaris, Sommelier at Justin Vineyards & Winery