A cool season punctuated by a blistering heat wave and October rains made 2010 a tough year for the Bordeaux varieties on Jonata’s Ballard Canyon estate. The team battled both shriveling and underripe fruit, and ended up bringing in their Cabernet Sauvignon, franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot on a single day between two rainstorms, cherry picking the healthiest clusters and making a single co-ferment. The Franc shows up here as herbal nuance and savory tobacco tones, while Petit Verdot is evident in the wine’s cracked black peppercorn grip. But the wine is mostly about Jonata, showing the dark meatiness of grapes grown on the estate’s sandy hillside soils. In this case, seen through the lens of a cool year, the expression is as restrained as it is muscular—the tannins fine and resolute, sculpted to a graphite clarity. Already complex, this is a fragrant and deeply mineral wine for the long haul.
A tweaked blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 14% Petit Verdot and 11% Malbec, the 2010 El Desafio de Jonata is the most approachable of the lineup and offers up lovely wild herbs, cured meats, underbrush and spice as well as medium to full-bodied richness and depth on the palate. It will hit maturity well before the other more Cabernet-dominated efforts, yet should still have a graceful evolution with upwards of 15 years or more of longevity. Drink now-2025. (JD)
Inky purple. A complex, intensely perfumed bouquet displays dark berry preserves, olive, fresh violet and a smoky touch of black pepper. Smells eerily like syrah. Spicy and penetrating, with excellent depth to its sweet blackberry, blueberry and floral pastille flavors. Juicy acidity provides lift and spine as well as vivacity to a strikingly long, sweet, spice-tinged finish. (JR)
The 2010 El Desafio de Jonata is a departure from previous vintages, as the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, typically the main variety in this blend, is lower than normal, while the Cabernet Franc is higher. Dark plums, cherries, mocha, tobacco, grilled herbs and licorice all take shape in a rich, enveloping wine loaded with pedigree. An explosive wine, the 2010 appears to have a bright future. The blend is 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 14% Petit Verdot and 11% Merlot. The Cabernet Franc in the Desafio is the only Franc pick that came in before the rains. Normally the fruit would have been used for the Alma de Jonata, but there wasn't enough to make that wine, so the grapes that came in healthy were used here. (AG)
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