While one might not think of great sparkling wine producers as places to look to for high-quality still wines, they in fact can be fantastic hidden gems that offer great value. Because the producer makes the majority of their profit from their bubbly, they’re able to sell the still whites and reds at a lower cost. Often these still wines can only be found at the winery, but sometimes, as is the case with J Vineyards, you can grab them nationally as well. Just don’t expect these bottles to have as large of a footprint as the brand’s bubbly offerings.
J Vineyards was founded in the Sonoma Valley in 1986 with the goal of creating great sparkling wine to rival that of Champagne. And creating great sparkling wine starts with high-quality grapes – primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Both of these varieties do very well in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, and it’s terroir that helps to make J Vineyards’ sparkling wines so exceptional, but that also means these grapes are great candidates to make still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well.
In the glass the J Vineyards Chardonnay pours a bright yellow, giving off aromas of honeysuckle, lemon, green apple and tropical notes. On the palate, this wine has a bright acidity that’s accented by flavors of peach, pear and citrus. This is a slightly buttery Chardonnay that’s more in the style of Chablis than the traditional, heavily-oaked California Chards. It’s a wine that punches well above its weight, making it a great buy.