Paso Robles Wine Country: Justin Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Review

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A recent trip I took to Paso Robles is going to be our focus at Wine Welfare for the next week. It was my first time to this epic wine country, and after enjoying the atmosphere and booze at some amazing wineries, it easily ranks as my number 2 favorite wine region in California (after the Central Coast; posts on that are coming later).

Unlike Napa, the douchebag factor is low in Paso Robles (though there are still some nesting there) and you can really find some fantastic bottles of juice for under $20. I hit about seven wineries on my weekend jaunt and was able to come up with a pretty solid list of under-$20s, most of which are available online. I’m going to go through all of them in this series of posts and hopefully not bore you to tears.

So here we go.

Justin Vineyards and Winery

My first royal tasting room. It’s a pretty high-end place to mention on a cheap wine review site like this, but Justin was a beautiful location and one that I definitely want to return to. However, it did have a few “unusual” charms. As we drove up to the entrance, I noticed we were not slowing. “That’s the entrance for the regular customers,” said my brother and his wife.

We continued a bit further before stopping at a rusted, wrought-iron gate straight out of Eyes Wide Shut. A code was entered by my brother and the gate screeched open. We drove up and I half-expected to see a masked and be-cloaked gentleman make his way down the steps of the structure with a naked woman linked to his arm. “Password, please?” Instead it was a basic parking lot.

The stucco building towered like a Masonic temple, and I don’t doubt that a few of the owners/workers/members indeed based a lot of their branding on that secretive lot. An atmosphere of privilege and creepy ritual emanated from the property. I felt I did not belong.

Inside it was geometry-chic. I say that because Justin’s logo and label iconography is based on geometric shapes and principles. Marble fireplace, chrome and glass tables, opulent sofas and chairs, well-dressed people chatting as a very kind French gentleman (we would meet him later, though I forget his name) poured them their next taste. Plates of cheese, chocolate, crackers, and of course numerous vintages of Justin wine were scattered about. It was warm, but I felt like I had to be a member of Mensa just walking in.

Directly through this lounge was a pair of enormous double-glass doors that led into a giant limestone cave. This was their barrel room (cellar, if you will). I learned that years ago, when they decided to expand and be more green-friendly, they had blown out the entire side of the mountain to be used as their barrel room. After all, nothing says environmentally friendly like blowing up a mountain.

It required no heat or air conditioning. Naturally climate controlled, no matter what the weather outside. Hundreds of barrels lined the floor and several catechesms leading deeper into the mountainside seemed untraversable what with the staggered barrel stacks.

We were even privy to a barrel sampling by the previously-mentioned French guy whose name still escapes me. It was great to actually taste the latest vintage of a particular wine straight from the barrel and be able to compare it to it’s older, vinted and bottled brother. You notice things like more tannin and fruit since the younger wine has not found it’s balance or calmed down yet. The wines were over-rated and over-oaked but fascinating thanks to the legend the Justin Winery has created for itself. To look at the gorgeous vineyard, the educated experts working the tasting room (all from various parts of the world, including France) and the general buzz within the exclusive tasting room, you would think that Justin was a century-old chateau. In reality, you’re still in beautiful little Paso Robles, drinking wines from a house that only released its first vintage in the mid-eighties. 1980s, that is.

Justin Vineyards 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

COLOR: Lemon water, but it darkens a bit towards the rim, making it look like something more than…well, lemon water.

NOSE: Not bad. Lot’s of grassy, rosemary scents along with some honey and caramel.

TASTE: Delicious all the way through. According to the Justin people, the wine “never touched wood” (heh heh) yet the flavors suggested that there was oak involved. It was caramel-ly and somewhat creamy, not too acidic. Most Sauvignon Blancs are supposed to be acidic enough to cut through buttery white foods like cream sauces and fish, but this one was big and had a heavy mouthfeel. A lot more rosemary came through along with some melon. Very, very well made, and at this price, a white wine this structured should not be passed up.

WITH FOOD: Like I said, while the acid is there, it’s not taking the lead, so don’t expect this to cut through super-rich foods. You may think differently once you try it, but lemon chicken or simple white fish might be best.

WHERE TO BUY: $12.79 at!

LINKS: Justin Winery and Vineyards

Paso Robles City Site

Stay tuned for more wines from Justin and other Paso Robles wineries!

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One Response to “Paso Robles Wine Country: Justin Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Review”

  1. […] next stop in Paso Robles wine country after Justin Vineyards was Denner,  another spectacular winery and vineyard. There’s nothing […]

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