Santa Ynez Valley Red Blend Drinking Beautifully After a Decade

Today’s Story: Jonata

Jonata is a red-wine-focused winery established in the Santa Ynez Valley by Stan Kroenke, owner of Screaming Eagle and the LA Rams. Jonata’s vines are planted in the Santa Ynez Valley on California’s Central Coast, and although Kroenke bought 586 acres of property only 84 acres are planted under vine. Like many wineries in the area, Jonata found success planting Rhône varieties such as Syrah but also grows Sangiovese and Bordeaux varieties. As far as soil goes, the entire Jonata property is sand (specifically Careaga Sandstone) which is known to be highly aerative with low water holding capacity and therefore low fertility for fruit. However, thanks to their adept winemaker Matt Dees, Jonata is able to produce exceptional wines and some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the Ballard Canyon appellation.

On the topic of quality, Jonata in their words seeks to become “the vanguard of an emerging quality movement in California winegrowing.” Great care is put into their vineyards and the winemaking process, resulting in a relatively small production of about 4,725 cases per year across 8 wines (2,426 cases being their Todos red blend). Sustainability is also a major point of focus for the winery, integrating livestock (chicken, turkeys, goats, pigs, and sheep) into the farming model to naturally enhance the soil. Jonata also maintains a communal garden and an orchard that produces olive oil and honey from bees raised on the ranch. Source:

I previously wrote about the 2005 El Corazón de Jonata, 2010 Tierra, and 2006 El Alma de Jonata.

Today’s Wine: 2010 El Desafio de Jonata

43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 14% Petit Verdot, 11% Merlot; 14.5% ABV

The 2010 El Desafio de Jonata is deep ruby in color and completely opaque. I gave this about an hour in the decanter, which helped remove some light sediment and the wine opened beautifully. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of blackberry, plum, black cherry, blueberry, licorice, green bell pepper, underbrush, scorched earth, a hint of truffle, light baking spice, and cocoa. Meanwhile the flavors are of medium (+) intensity and the palate offers notes of black cherry, redcurrant, brambly blackberry, spiced plum, sweet tobacco, violets, smoked meat, charred herbs, green peppercorn, gravel, mocha, and a touch of vanilla. This dry red blend is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but fine-grained and well-integrated tannin, high alcohol, and a long finish.

Price: $130. This is a very competitive price-point, especially compared to many of the Cabernet-dominant blends in the “more famous” Napa Valley. However, I think this bottling is well worth its price as it is both intense, complex, and finishes long. This is drinking beautifully right now.

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