The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2014

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Page 69 of 108

WORDS FROM THE CELLAR Setting the Stage J. WILKES WINES' SANTA MARIA VALLEY PINOT BLANC IS ITS BENCHMARK VARIETAL J. Wilkes winemaker Vidal Perez. T J. Wilkes 2013 Pinot Blanc, Santa Maria Valley ($15) Summer's juiciest fruits banded together in the sunshine, surrounded by gardenias. Quince, apricot, peaches and pears help create a wine that is toned and sculpted with a minerality that races through its inner creaminess. 92 points. —Meridith May he J. Wilkes brand was established in 2001 by Jefferson Wilkes. Jeff was committed to promoting the Santa Maria Valley, a place he considered home and cared about deeply. Since Jeff's passing three years ago, the J. Wilkes brand has carried forth with a simple mission: to deliver wines of varietal character, at competitive prices, that highlight the virtues of the Santa Maria Valley appellation. The J. Wilkes wines are now made by Vidal Perez, who worked side-by-side with Jeff in the cellar. By offering a Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc under the J. Wilkes imprimatur of quality, we hope to introduce a new generation of wine drinkers to wines of typicity from a venerated appellation. "We hope these wines serve not only as ambassadors of an iconic growing region, but also as an introduction to three varietals that merit much pursuit and discovery," says Perez. The benchmark wine of the J. Wilkes line-up is Pinot Blanc, a variety loved by both Jeff and Vidal. Not widely planted and temperamental to grow, a well-made Pinot Blanc offers many pleasures, including great texture, a generous dollop of sub-tropical fruit and a refreshing foundation of natural acidity. The J. Wilkes Pinot Blanc is not impeded by too much cellar manipulation and is made in 100% stainless steel, never seeing any oak, so the fruit is what shines in the glass. Instead, it emerges as a crisp, exhilarating white wine that speaks to the soils of the Santa Maria Valley. ─Nicholas Miller Nicholas Miller, whose family owns Bien Nacido Vineyard, purchased the J. Wilkes brand with the intent of continuing Jefferson Wilkes's winemaking legacy. january 2014  /  the tasting panel  /  69 TP0114_66-108.indd 69 12/19/13 9:46 PM

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