Jerry Lohr is one of the California Central Coast’s wine pioneers. He started planting vines in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County in 1972 and now has 900 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and other varieties planted there. In 1988 he planted his first Cabernet Sauvignon at the Home Ranch in Paso Robles’ Estrella District. Today, Paso Robles is the center of J Lohr Vineyard red wine operations with 2 thousand acres of mostly Bordeaux varieties planted in several districts: Estrella, El Pomar, San Miguel, and Adelaida. See our Report #62 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon & Other Bordeaux Varieties for more on the excellent wines coming out of this region today.
J Lohr Vineyards produces several Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux variety wines as shown in our tasting notes below. We’ve tasted these wines several times over the years and always find them to be well made following the house style of rich, dark fruit with accessible tannins. While generously oaked, the wines are balanced with well integrated flavors. J Lohr’s icon wine, the Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, consistently ranks among Paso Robles’ best Cabernets.
Steve Lohr was named CEO of J Lohr Vineyards in 2013. Jeff Meier (who joined J Lohr in 1984) is director of winemaking, and Steve Peck leads the red wine program. Kristen Barnhisel assumed the lead of the white wine program in 2015. Earlier this year, Steve Lohr was named Wine Industry Person of the Year by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.
J.Lohr Vineyards 2016 Arroyo Vista Chardonnay Arroyo Seco ($25) 90 Medium yellow straw. This is classic California Chardonnay, richly fruited with well integrated honeyed oak and good acid balance. Hints of honeysuckle, poached pear and lemon curd on the nose carry over to a full, broad palate that also shows touches of hazelnut and smoky flint. Long, lush and delicious. Grown on the sandy loam soils of the Arroyo Seco. Hand picked in the early morning, whole cluster pressed, barrel fermented, full malo, weekly lees stirring, and aged in 49% new French barrels sur lie for 14 months. 14.5% alc.
J.Lohr Vineyards 2016 Gesture GSM Adelaida District ($30) 91 Gorgeous bouquet of red berry, underbrush, and a hint of creamy milk chocolate. Soft and lush on the attack and packed with flavor on a silky, sensuous palate. Finishes clean and long with lingering sweet red fruit and subtle garrigue notes. A blend of 75% Grenache, 22% Syrah, and 3% Mourvèdre. The Grenache and Mourvèdre were sourced from the Gean Vineyard in the Adelaida District, the westernmost vineyard in the entire Paso Robles AVA. The Syrah comes from the 1800′ high Terra Bella Vineyard, also in the Adelaida District. Hand picked, sorted and destemmed, fermented in open top tanks, macerated 7 days prior to pressing, matured 14 months in 25% new French oak 500L puncheons. Alc 15.3%
J.Lohr Vineyards 2015 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles ($35) 90 Always good value and packed with rich, red Paso fruit, the Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon reveals mulberry, black cherry and plum fruit on a nicely concentrated, juicy palate, finishing with lingering sweet fruit. Straightforward Cab priced right. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot from selected vineyards, fermented in open top and conventional stainless steel tanks, matured 18 months in 80% new 225L French oak. Alc 14.6%
J.Lohr Vineyards 2014 Cuvée PAU Paso Robles ($50) 90 The Cabernet Sauvignon led Cuvée PAU is big and bold with sweet dark plum and black cherry fruit complemented by notes of smoky oak. It’s full and lush with savory undertones and firm with a dry mid-palate and abundant tannins. Could benefit from more cellar time. Not as good as the 2013 in our opinion. Handpicked 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, 11% Petit Verdot, and 7% Merlot, fermented in 10 ton open top tank, matured in 60% new French barriques. 14.7% alc
J.Lohr Vineyards 2014 Cuvée POM Paso Robles ($50) 91+ Our favorite of the three J Lohr Cuvées for drinking now. It has a vibrant, fruit forward bouquet anchored on dense black fruit and a silky attack leading to a lush, sweet palate of slate like minerals and dense dark fruit. There’s excellent balance and good integration of oak and fruit. The mineral element shows again on a persistent finish. Hand picked, destemmed 82% Merlot and 18% Malbec, fermented in 10 ton open top fermenters, matured in 60% new 225L French barriques. 14.9 alc
J.Lohr Vineyards 2014 Cuvée St.E Paso Robles ($50) 91 The Cabernet Franc based Cuvée St. E is especially juicy and lively with bold blackberry, huckleberry and licorice complicated by prominent hints of underbrush. The elegant palate is soft, round and balanced with a core of sweet fruit, finishing with good fruity intensity. 59% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot, macerated 8 days, and matured 18 months in 65% new 225L French oak. 14.7% alc
J.Lohr Vineyards 2014 Carol’s Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena ($60) 91 Inky, slate like minerals and black fruit show on this rich, earthy Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley. Well proportioned with dense flavors and a well defined structure. Huge, extracted finish. Delicious but lacks the opulence of the best [often more expensive] Napa Cabs. Sourced from the 20.7 acre Carol’s Vineyard on the valley floor in northern St. Helena near the Napa River. A blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Petit Verdot, handpicked, fermented in 10 ton open top tanks, aged 18 months in 75% new French oak barrels. Alc 14.8%
J.Lohr Vineyards 2014 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Creston District Paso Robles ($100) 93 The J Lohr Signature Cabernet Sauvignon has always been one of our favorites from Paso Robles. It’s a refined, tailored wine, beautifully focused and superbly balanced. Dark currant, blackberry, tobacco, and notes of loam and rich toasted oak all put in an appearance on a layered, concentrated palate, finishing very pure, long and fresh. Handpicked and berry sorted Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1700′ high Beck Vineyard (planted to clone 337 on 110R rootstock on calcareous soils) in the Creston District, fermented in 6 ton open top tanks, macerated for 5 days, and aged 17 months in 100% new French oak.