Tuesday, April 15, 2008

UNLVino: Chateau Julien

My first stop in the UNLVino Grand tasting was at the Chateau Julien table. By coincidence, I met their representative, Lisa, while having a crepe for breakfast. Due to the small number of available tables, Lisa and another wine rep asked to sit at my table as I had extra room. We got to talking and found out we were all going to the UNLVino tasting. So, I wanted to stop by her table to check out the wines.

Chateau Julien established in 1983, is family owned and operated by Robert and Patty Brower. Their 16 acre estate is located in Carmel Valley, California. The winery produces three levels of wines: Private Reserve, Estate Vineyard and Barrel Selected. All of their grapes are grown locally in Monterey County's Lockwood Valley. Their winemakers are Bill Anderson and Marta Kraftzeck. Interestingly, Chateau Julien even has their own blog and has been doing so for over two years.

I first tasted their 2005 Chateau Julien Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon (about $9). The Barrel Selected wines are their entry level wines and typically have mild tannins and forward fruit, making them very food-friendly and approachable upon release. The Barrel Selected wines are generally aged in one to three year old French and American oak barrels. This wine is made of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

This is a good value wine. It definitely has good fruit up front, some black cherry and raspberry, and some nice spicy notes inlcuding a tinge of vanilla. The tannins are very smooth and it is an easy drinking wine. It has a bit of character, raising it up a level from the numerous one-dimensional wines at this price point. For under $10, this is a definite Drink & Buy. Certainly a good choice with BBQ coming in a couple months. I then tried their 2004 Chateau Julien Estate Vineyard Syrah (about $18-20). This is their next level of wines. This wine is made from 100% Syrah. It was much lighter in color than many other Syrahs though it was more medium bodied on the palate. It had an intriguing spicy nose and that spice came out well on the palate too. Mixed with the spice were ripe flavors of plum and blackberry with vanilla streaks. The tannins were moderate and did not overwhelm. This is another wine that would go well with BBQ. It is not an intense, muscular Syrah but a milder wine though it does not lack in flavor. A good choice for the price.

I do look forward to trying other wines from the Chateau Julien line.

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