Jazz Cellars

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The origin of the word “jazz” is a varied as the music being played today call jazz. Perhaps the best origin is from the slang “jasm” from around 1860 which meant “energy, vitality, and spirit”. That seems to capture the essential of music referred to as jazz. That is how the two owners of Jazz Cellars have composed their wines. On a recent visit based on a friend’s recommendation to visit Murphy’s, I ventured to taste two recommendations: their 2012 Rhapsody, a Marsanne/Roussanne blend and their 2012 Pinot Noir.

First a quick background on the two owners/composers of Jazz Cellars. Bob Smith and Joe Lazzara are both neighbors, musicians and high tech folks who shared a vision of producing great wine. They started and are still headquartered in Foster City. They use a well know facility in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco to create their master pieces. The tasting room is located in Murphy’s California in the lower Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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The unique aspect of Jazz Cellars is that they search and find the “right terroir” in order to produce award winning wines. At last count they had accumulated over 100 awards in a very short period of time, without a dedicated vineyard! No small feat.

So while in Murphy’s (Calaveras AVA), I stopped by to taste the wines. They are located 100 feet down a side alley off Main Street. The wines being served that day did not include any “Calaveras County” grapes which at first was an oddity being located in Murphy’s. This is when Jessica in the Tasting Room, provided some background on how they “go to market”. I sampled four of the five wines being offered that day and was continually impressed with each varietal.

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The first one I want to introduce you to is their 2012 Rhapsody which is a 50/50 Marsanne/Roussanne blend of exquisite tastes and aromas. The grapes come from the Russian River AVA and is a well-orchestrated duet of two wonderful Rhone varietals. In their words it “is highlighted by honey-melon and apricot notes with layers of almonds and hazelnuts…” It is a mouthful experience with notes of oak on the finish.

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The second wine was their 2012 Pinot Noir Lone Oak Vineyard, from the Santa Lucia Highlands on the Central Coast of California. It is bright and dark crimson that radiates in the glass and provides a full body and tasty, almost spicy finish on the palate. It has won a Gold Medal at the California State Fair 2017 with a rating of 95 points. It also won a Silver Medal at the SF Chronicle Wine Competition in 2016. Both wines should be sought out quickly!

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Several things I found while visiting the tasting room include weekly summer jazz on the patio from 2pm to 5 pm on Saturday’s. You can get the current schedule of performances on their website. I would also recommend tasting their 2012 Zinfandel Teldeschi Vineyard, from Sonoma, Dry Creek which produced a mouthwatering desire to keep consuming it! Dark purple with oak notes and Bing ripe cherry on the nose. This also receive a Gold Medal and is rated at 92 points.

So if you want to taste some of the best wines in the State of California and only want to drive to one location, a leisurely trip to the lower foothills will allow you to taste the regions of the Central Coast, Carneros, Sonoma and many other AVA’s. I can attest that their wines do embody “energy, vitality, and spirit”. After visiting the tasting room you too might boogie woogie your way home with a few bottles.



Per FTC disclosure, any wines purchased, were offered at industry discount.


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