What to Drink Right Now: Justin Wines

Recently, I was able to attend a wonderful event celebrating Justin Wines.

The Justin Vineyards and Winery are in Paso Robles California. Paso Robles is a winemaking region known for its hot days and cool nights. I’m daydreaming of hot days and cool nights right now…But you don’t have to daydream about the wonderful wine created in those growing conditions.

Let’s talk about my three favorites from the event. They are all red, and all “Bordeaux-style” wines. I’m going to jump right in and talk about the wines now, and later, for those who are interested, I’ll talk a bit about the term “Bordeaux-style.”


My hands down favorite is the 2016 ISOSCELES. This blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, with Cabernet Franc and Merlot, plays out like a symphony of flavor. It is smooth as silk. Tantalizing notes of red and black fruit, cinnamon, tobacco, and a good structured backbone of earthy minerals keep this wine interesting sip after seductive sip. Retails for $76.


My next favorite, and a very different wine, is the 2016 JUSTIFICATION. A Merlot, Cabernet Franc blend. You have fruit, you have earth, and if you have a barbeque and this wine on hand, you have a party. This wine is much more straight forward and assertive than the Isosceles. Anything blackened or spicy would fare well with this wine. I’d save the Isosceles for your more delicately flavored foods like filet mignon. Retails for $60.

Justin’s winemaker, Scott Shirley, who is as accommodating and charming as he is talented, and I, differ a bit on our opinions of these two wines. He said he believes the Justification is more a “drink-now” wine, while Isosceles will improve with cellaring. Though I believe both wines should age fabulously, I think the Isosceles hits a note of perfection, right now, as is. While the Justification, might with cellaring, and time, have its flavors intertwine a bit more, and perhaps bring out more subtle notes that are now overshadowed by fruit and earth.

Scott does have a degree in biochemistry from the University of California, Davis, so he might be right. I, on the other hand, just know what I like to drink. Couldn’t hurt to put a bottle of each away and compare.


My third favorite is the 2016 RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine is a classic big, bold Cab with ripe dark fruit, yummy baking spice and it’s a little herbaceous. If you have a Cabernet fan in your life, this would make a great gift. The wine is terrific and the bottle, in sleek black, is classic. Retails for $27.


Now, for those who are interested: a little about Bordeaux and “Bordeaux-style” blends.

Bordeaux is a wine region in France. In France, the government decides what varietals can be grown and sold and what they can be called. The five grapes that are used in red Bordeaux wines are: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. French producers can use the grapes in different combinations, some even as single varietals.

The five grapes are called “Noble grapes” because of their ability to create top quality wines for their terroir. Terroir is the land as it is at a specific time, and under those unique weather conditions, at the time. 

Come to the USA and we have “Bordeaux-style” wines. These wines will usually make use of one or more of the five noble grapes of Bordeaux and the winemaker will try and have the wine reflect the unique terroir of where the grapes are grown, in the case with Justin Wines, Paso Robles.  

Don’t be afraid to try a “Bordeaux-style” blend. The ones from Justin are fantastic! New York-style pizza? Now that I’d stay away from. 😉


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