Welcome to InsideHook’s first in a regular series of wine reviews, a vino companion to our weekly spirits reviews.
What we’re drinking: Las Jaras Sweet Berry Wine, Glou-Glou, and the canned Waves
Where they’re from: Located in Sebastopol, CA, Las Jaras is a collaboration between comedian Eric Wareheim (one-half of Tim & Eric) and winemaker Joel Burt. It started as one special release — a single bottling sold at one of Wareheim’s shows — and has since expanded to over a dozen bottles and cans. Grapes are grown in Mendocino, Sonoma and occasionally Oregon.
Why we’re drinking these: I tend to get rather iffy by the concept of celebrity wines. There are dabblings of decent ones — Jon Bon Jovi’s rosé is lovely, as is Mary J Blige’s Friuli whites. I’d certainly fight for Miraval in a divorce. But more often than not, they’re petulant and poor in quality — vanity swill with a celebrity surcharge.
But Eric Wareheim’s is different. First off, he’s clearly a culinary nerd. Many of his Master of None scenes are backgrounded by world-renowned restaurants and peppered with insider food references. Did I mention he had a cookbook (a New York Times best-selling one) where he waxes poetic about Alinea and educates readers on sabering Champagne?
All this to say, he now makes very good wine. In 2016, Wareheim teamed up with Burt, a winemaker who made his way up through corporate vineyards like Domaine Chandon and focuses now on low-intervention wines, to start Las Jaras.
True to Wareheim form, even the imagery is playful — highly graphic labels are the result of collaborations with artists like Chloe Wise and Jen Stark. One label even has a watercolor portrait of John C. Reilly on it (more on that later). But while Wareheim may be a joker by trade and his designs high-spirited, the wines are serious, precise and clean. There are no hints of barnyard or “funk” to be found; rather, a focus on California grapes made into wines that let them and the land they grow on, shine. It’s comedy plus contemplation, hip but not hipster.
How they taste:
- Sweet Berry Wine: This was the wine that started it all. It’s mainly old vine carignan with an added this and that (read: zinfandel, charbono, cabernet sauvignon and valdiguié) that has undergone whole cluster fermentation. The resulting wine is silky and plush with a steely, almost briny nose and blue fruit, deep cherry and a little caraway on the palate – Morgon energy. Decant it for more serious depth.
- Glou Glou: This wine is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek homage to France’s glou glou wines; wines meant to chug and glug with fervor. Essentially, it’s pizza wine — Las Jaras dubs this the perfect wine for “circle foods.” It’s made with carbonic macerated 50% zinfandel, 19% carignan and 15% petite syrah, with a touch of Mourvedre, cabernet sauvignon and skin-contact chardonnay. It’s refreshing, enthusiastic and highly chillable, with energetic red fruit and a brambly, blackberry characteristic. More than anything, it’s fun.
- Waves White: I’m a keen proponent of canned wine (we love a single serve!) and this one is particularly enjoyable. I cracked a few of these on a ranch in Joshua Tree on a holiday with my in-laws, which was the perfect place to drink this — the wine was highly crushable and a little weird. Draw your own parallels if you please. Made with 50% Grüner Veltliner, and the remaining chardonnay and Chenin, it’s breezy and light with lychee soda energy and nice persistent minerality. Comforting, with sharp effervescence with a slight (but highly pleasant) funkiness.
Fun fact: The very first bottle Las Jaras produced, Sweet Berry Wine, was a bit of a joke. It was largely a reference to a sketch from the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! where John C. Reilly — as Dr. Steve Brule — sets up to review wines on a local cable access show. As the segment progresses, he goes rogue, ripping back bottles and screeching “SWEET BERRY WINE” with a mouth of stained purple. On Wareheim and Burt’s label, spot Dr. Brule looking dead-eyed into the distance draped in that sweet, sweet berry wine.
Where to buy: Wines can be purchased directly from Las Jaras for $28+ a bottle (less for cans) and smaller bottle shops.
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