A Visit to JM Cellars
Yesterday morning, while having coffee with Teri Citterman (@Citterman), who writes for Wine Press Northwest and Northwest Best Places Travel Books, she mentioned her appointment later that day with John Bigelow of JM Cellars. When she asked me if I wanted to meet her there, I thought, why not? So I managed to invite myself to yet another visit to JM Cellars, but this time it was just Teri and myself with winemaker, John Bigelow, and assistant winemaker, Tim Drake. No crowds, no pushing or shoving and a chance to taste some things normally not poured for the general public.
John is a really passionate winemaker and it shows in his enthusiasm about his wines and of the unique place his winery occupies on “Bramble Bump” in Woodinville, Washington. The winery grounds include a beautiful wetland and small pond that is home to bears, hawks, trout, mountain beavers and other animals along with hundreds of unique species of trees and plant life. From the expansive crush pad to the intimate barrel room, the winery is a charming place to enjoy their wines, and of course, we enjoyed some wine. All of their wines that have been reviewed in the traditional media have received 90+ point scores and can be seen as a testament to how consistently good they are.
2008 JM Cellars Mourvèdre Rosé – John’s inspiration for this Rosé are the ones produced in Provence, France. Having just had several Rosés from Provence recently, I can say that his 2008 Rosé really rocks! Because of the amount of contact time the skins had, the color is a bit darker and more red than the pink and orange hues of a Rosé from Provence. With some subtle earthy and floral aromas and flavors of strawberry and citrus, it was a very drinkable wine. Obviously, many other people thought so too since the 120 cases produced quickly sold out.
2008 JM Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Klipsun Vineyards – in the tradition of Pouilly Fume and other great whites from the Loire Valley, the JM Cellars Sauv Blanc seeks to bring out the subtle fruit flavors unadulterated by oak. “I make my white wines for red wine drinkers,” says John. Five percent Sémillon is added to give the wine a nice honeyed-floral aroma and to round out the palate of green apple, hint of grapefruit, lime, fig and crisp minerally finish.
2008 JM Cellars Viognier – this is a 100% Viognier from the Columbia Valley with a pale straw color and lovely perfumed aromas of flowers, apricots and orange blossoms. Lively acidity with flavors of Asian pear, citrus and spice. I liked the Viognier so much when I first had this a couple years ago that I bought a case of it. Last year, I arrived too late and it was sold out. I nearly missed out again this year, but Lisa at the tasting room found a case for me.
2007 JM Cellars “Bramble Bump” Red – This is a different combination not normally blended but it seems to work and is one of their more popular wines. It’s one-third Cabernet Sauvignon, nearly one-third Merlot and the remainder is Syrah, Mourvèdre and Petite Verdot. This wine hinted at sweetness and has a jammy nose of fig and black fruits with a palate of cherry, tobacco, soft tannins and a dusty finish.
We spent a lot of time touring the winery grounds and barrel room and listening to John tell us about using feral yeasts since 2005 and about the 3 stuck fermentations he’s had in 11 years of making wine. Of course, those wines were sold as bulk and never made it into any of his wines. As a parting gift, I received a small bottle of 2007 Late-harvest Sémillon. Thanks, John, for the wine and hospitality and thank you, Teri, for inviting me to tag along.
JM Cellars is open for tasting every Friday from 2 – 6 and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 – 5. They’re having their Fall Release on September 12.