0 immediate, 2 marketplace
Average critic rating : 100.0 points
2001 was the first truly great vintage for Jess Jackson and Pierre Seillan, and that is evidenced by the utterly perfect 2001 La Muse, a blend of 87% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec. Over three-fourths of it came from the Alexander Mountain estate of Jess Jackson, and the rest from Chalk Hill, Knights Valley, and a tiny bit from Bennett Valley. This dense purple-colored effort exhibits notes of licorice, creme de cassis, plum sauce, violets and truffles. Full-bodied with magnificent density, overall equilibrium, stunning purity, sweet but abundant tannin and a fabulous finish, this profound wine remains a baby at age ten. Give it another 5-6 years of bottle age and drink it over the following 35-40+ years. It is very French in style even though one could argue that this level of concentration can only be achieved by a handful of wines from Pomerol and St.-Emilion. ||These are the visionary efforts of the recently deceased Jess Jackson, one of the great men in California’s history of high quality winemaking. Verite was started in 1998, when Jess Jackson brought over Bordelais winemaker Pierre Seillan, and essentially gave him carte blanche authority to pick the best fruit he could to fashion these three cuvees. La Muse is his verison of a Pomerol, made from Jess Jackson’s high-elevation vineyards in Alexander Valley, Knights Valley and Chalk Hill, the La Joie is his Medoc look-alike from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and of course, Le Desir is a Sonoma clone of a St.-Emilion, made generally from high quantities of both Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with just a little Cabernet Sauvignon in them. These wines are the epitome of natural wine, aged 24-32 months in new French oak, with wood staves selected by Jackson and his team in France, and the wines then bottled unfined and unfiltered. There’s no acidification, no additional concentration by reverse osmosis, and obviously no water added. The production of each cuvee runs between 1,500 and 2,000 cases. According to Pierre Seillan, the aim was to produce wines capable of lasting 25, or in some cases, even 40+ years, and based on the three vertical tastings I did of all the cuvees made to date, the great vintages will certainly attain that potential longevity.||Tel. (707) 433-9000; Fax (707) 431-1261 Wine Advocate.June, 2011
Vérité: The Importance
Vérité winery was established by Jess Jackson, a man Robert Parker described as “one of the most extraordinary men in the wine world I have ever met”, and which has, in a relatively short space of time, come to be regarded as one of the finest producers in all of California, if not the world.
The estate of Vérité has been described by Robert Parker as “one of the shining stars in Jess Jackson’s firmament” and is always highly praised and rated by critics. It has recently made history, receiving twelve 100 point scores from Robert Parker, the first time any winery in Sonoma County has received this many perfect scores. This, among other accolades, reflects how French winemaker Pierre Seillan has continually excelled in combining old world expertise with new world fruit for fantastic results.
Vérité: The Insight
California gave Seillan the opportunity to exercise the freedom he had never experienced in France when it came to blending wine, and as he expressed, “every hillside, every aspect and elevation offers us a different micro-cru.” Seillan has identified over 40 of these micro-crus and they are all individually hand-farmed to promote low yields and the highest quality of fruit. Every detail, from the work in the vineyard to the final product, is meticulously overseen, such as the selection of specific parcels of woodland to produce the oak, with 100’s of different levels of toasting available to best complement the wine inside the barrels. This attention to detail is directly reflected in the outstanding quality of the wines produced, and as Seillan has said, this is “wine without compromise.”
Initially, Jackson only intended to create a Merlot-based wine at this estate, and approached Seillan with the idea to create a wine which could rival Petrus, Seillan’s answer to which being that they should create a wine that was even better. This wine was, in its first vintage, simply bottled as Vérité, but has been since then known as La Muse, the wine that inspired all that came after. Seillan however, excited by the quality of the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown across Jackson’s holdings created a second wine based around this grape variety, without consulting Jackson. Jackson’s joy upon tasting this wine inspired its’ name, La Joie. In 2000, Seillan took a step closer to actualising one of his personal life dreams, to create a great wine with Cabernet Franc, and this led to the birth of Le Desir. These are the three wines produced at the estate and as Parker writes, they “are undeniably three of the finest wines being made in California.”
Of the 100 point 2013 La Muse, Parker writes that it is “amazingly like a great vintage of Petrus with mulberry, black cherry, licorice, truffle and unctuous, thick, juicy fruit all present in this full-bodied masterpiece.” The La Joie from the same vintage, also a 100 point wine, he describes as tasting “like a great first-growth Pauillac [which] has an amazing amount of complexity and richness.” The 2012 Le Desir, another perfect scorer, was described by Parker as reminding him “of a young vintage of Ausone.”
Vérité: The Background
The history of this estate began when Jess Jackson decided to purchase an estate in California for his family and friends to enjoy. The son of farmers, Jackson had several blue collar jobs before training as a lawyer and founding a successful law firm, the true epitome of the American Dream. When he purchased his estate, he found that several Chardonnay vines had been planted on his land, and Jackson started selling the grapes produced to winemakers. However, in the early 80’s, a surplus of grapes on the market meant that Jackson struggled to sell his grapes profitably, and recognising that the grapes he produced were of high quality and the fact that there was a gap in the market for high quality Chardonnay, he started producing the extremely well regarded Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay.
Once Jackson’s passion for winemaking had been awakened, his next dream became to create a world class Merlot based wine in California. To do this, he sought out the expertise of French winemaker Pierre Seillan. Seillan had been working in Bordeaux for many years, serving as a consultant and a winemaker at several different estates, however he had long felt constrained by the appellation rules in Bordeaux. He would often blend wines from different appellations, however he knew that this could only ever be a hobby and would never be allowed. When Seillan met Jackson, he was excited at the freedom that the prospect of making wine in California would allow, and when he accepted Jackson’s invitation to make wine in California, Vérité was born.
The Jackson Family Wines holdings are now extensive, with 35 wineries in California, 3 in Oregon, as well as international holdings. Although the holdings are extensive, the business still remains a family affair, and since Jess’s death in 2011, the company is run by his second wife, his children and grandchildren, his vision having always been to create a business that would be in the hands of his children for several generations.
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