From: California, USA
Blend: 2021 blend is 50% Zinfandel, 19% Carignan, 15% Petite Sirah, 6% Mourvèdre, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Chardonnay
Taste: “the most refreshing red wine ever, and the perfect antidote to long summer days and the heat of the grill. On the nose, it is a sea of hibiscus and raspberry with undertones of roasted coffee and wet rock. The palate is intense and fleshy with flavors of black plum and pomegranate and a long textural finish.”
Pairing: “Glou Glou has enough acid to stand up to your favorite tomato sauce, as well as intense berry notes that perfectly complement the char of a burger or perfectly cooked pizza crust (check out the recipe below). Serve this slightly chilled, and you will be the hero of your next backyard barbecue.”
Recipe from Carlo Mirarchi, Brandon Hoy, Chris Parachini and Katherine Wheelock
Adapted by Sam Sifton
About. Many, many thanks to importer Jenny & François Selections for all of the information provided below!
Location: Sebastopol, California, USA
Owner & winemaker: Joel Burt and Eric Wareheim
Vineyard area: variable – the grapes are sourced from carefully selected growers in Mendocino, Sonoma, and other parts of California (or Oregon for the Pinot Noir)
Vineyard management: practicing organics or organic-certified, depending on the source vineyard (with an exception for the Chenin vineyard)
Soils: diverse alluvial soils, depending on the vineyard
Main varieties: Carignan, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Chenin. Most of the wines are blends of Southern French or Italian varieties
Winemaking: spontaneous fermentation, diverse aging and fermentation vessels. No fining, sometimes light filtration before bottling.
Las Jaras is a labor of friendship between a long-time California winemaker Joel Burt and comedian Eric Wareheim (of Master of None, Tim & Eric or Reality fame)
“Sweet Berry Wine”, the first wine they ever made, was born out of a desire to share wine with Eric’s comedy fans; it features John C. Reilly, one of Eric’s comedic counterparts, on the label, and has been part of the range ever since
The winery was officially born a year after, with the 2016 vintage
The guys have been actively working on turning their growers into chemical-free farming, and now virtually all the vineyards are practicing or certified organic
The winery name (“The Arrows” in Spanish) comes from one of the lottery cards that Joel’s Mexican coworkers would leave behind at his old table grape farm job
Besides the love for wine, the guys also share an enormous love for food; Eric even co-authored a cookbook of his own.
Two guys meet in a garage and… well, in this case, this isn’t the beginning of an internet mogul company, but of a natural wine brand called Las Jaras. It all started in the late aughts with a garage wine made by Joel, a trained winemaker then working for various big wineries in California. “I’d never had a wine like this before – it was a sparkling Carignan similar to the one we’re making now. So fresh and energetic, so different from the corporate Champagnes or hefty California wines I knew back then. It really moved me,” Eric, a cult comedian and “top food blogger”, recalls the first meeting with his friend’s produce. After this epiphany, Joel also set Eric on a path to Italian and French regions; the original exploration of classical wines and styles soon deviated towards more natural and low intervention wines and eventually led to Las Jaras, “a mix of those two approaches” as Eric puts it.
The very first wine ever made was a 2015 Sweet Berry Wine, a now-classic bold red with a portrait of Eric’s comedy partner John C. Reilly on its label. What started as a trick to lure comedy fans into low-intervention winemaking leaped into a regular winery with the next vintage, as the guys bought a bunch of Carignan grapes and made a couple of different cuvées. Fueled by Eric’s love for a lighter style of wines and European classics, the duo has since explored multiple grapes and styles, from a darker style Rosato made with Italian grapes to an elegant, poised Chenin or a highly drinkable light carbonic pizza red, aptly named Glou Glou. “It’s very much a personal voyage,” Eric nods, “our tastes change every year, so there still is some experimentation coming on, inspired by what we like to drink at the moment. Take our Oregon Pinot Noir, that wine is partly due to our friends Andy from St.Reginald Parish or Joe Swick: we tasted their wine and told them “shit, man, this is great, can we buy your grapes too?’,” Eric laughs at the West Coast wine community dynamics. “But the goal is always the same, putting beautiful wine out there.”
How difficult is it to harmonize changing tastes of two quite different people, you ask? “I’ve learned through comedy that the idea of a big ego just doesn’t work for success. So I really enjoy these creative partnerships I have, be it with Tim [Heidecker, Eric’s other half in the Tim and Eric comedy duo] or Aziz [Ansari, of the Netflix show Master of None], these are people who are better at doing something than I am and I feel like my role is to empower them and push them to go further. And it’s the same with Joel–I want him to make what he’s passionate about. Luckily, just like Tim and I are one brain in comedy, Joel and I are one brain when it comes to winemaking philosophy and practices. I trust him so much,” Wareheim explains in his interview with the Pipette Magazine, recalling how happy he is that Joel resisted his urge to go overly “funky” in the winemaking style.
Joel and Eric indeed work on the “cleaner side of natural”, as they put it, with a very simple philosophy in the cellar: pick it when it’s just right, use different kinds of vessels (there’s some concrete oak experiment going on), not much oak, and then “don’t fuck with it”. Some of the wines (like the new Waves cans) are lightly filtered and received a small dose of sulfur, but that’s about it; on the other end, their wildly popular Superbloom cuvée is actually a zero-zero co-ferment of red and white grapes, inspired by Eric’s visit to Alice Bouvot’s Octavin. An important shift allowing for this kind of work happened in the grape sourcing: with every vintage, Joel and Eric have shifted towards more and more organic grapes, actively incentivizing growers to go fully organic. “All of our fruit sources have been organic since the 2018 vintage except for the Chenin Blanc that messed up with one herbicide spray. The vineyard just changed hands, so we will hopefully get it right with the new grower for the 2022 season,” Joel explains.
It’s precisely this kind of commitment to quality and immediate energy appeal of their wines that sets Las Jaras apart from the dreadful “wine from a celebrity” drawer. “Oh, we did get these reactions in the beginning, of course–and I don’t really blame people for thinking this way, I’d probably be turned off by that too. I guess not everybody knew how seriously I take food and wine,” Eric shrugs, content with the fact that due to their dedication, they managed to genuinely make their “peers, winemaker friends or restaurant managers happy” in the end.
We can attest to the dedication: it’s highly moving and entertaining at the same time to see a 6’7” guy almost levitate with joy over an expertly prepared fish and top-notch olive oil or a soulful German Riesling that we had the luck to share with him on different places on Earth. Or to see his winemaking partner prepare a serious sourdough Detroit-style pizza like Joel did for us in one Instagram live; there’s definitely a lot of skill and joie de vivre involved in the Las Jaras enterprise. “These are the best moments in your life,” Eric confirms: “being with your friends or your lover, drinking a bottle of wine, laughing, and talking. Sometimes you’re talking about the wine, sometimes about life, but wine is always a part of it.”
This wine. Joel and Eric on this wine: “Pizza, burgers, wine: the Las Jaras holy trinity presents Glou Glou, the perfect wine for circle foods. Most of the grapes underwent carbonic maceration, the classic fermentation method of the Beaujolais, which means that fermentation happened inside of berries themselves, causing them to explode in happy, boozy ecstasy. That’s how you’ll feel when you drink this wine—it dances in your mouth.”
Vineyards: Gary Venturi Vineyard in Calpella, Baroni Vineyard in Redwood Valley, Eaglepoint Vineyard in Talmage, Larry Venturi Vineyard in Calpella, Tolini Vineyard in The Forks, Redwood Valley Vineyards, Dogali Vineyard in Pine Mountain, Martorana Vineyard in Dry Creek (Sonoma County), Enz Vineyard in Lime Kiln Valley (San Bonito County), Casa Santina Maria in Sonoma.
All of these vineyards are organically farmed.
Winemaking: different vinification methods including carbonic maceration, traditional skin maceration, and what the guys call reverse saignée (whole cluster press of tannic red grape varieties and then adding that juice to a red wine fermentor, to increase the juice to skin ratio to make a lighter red wine). The goal is always to make a layered, cohesive blend. Most of the lots were fermented with carbonic maceration, a gentle process that helps to keep early-harvest wines from becoming too tannic. After 7-15 days, depending on the lot, the juice was pressed off its skins where it fermented natively in tank after 10ppm sulfur was added. Then, to keep the wine bright and fresh, half of the lots were aged in barrels and half were aged in stainless steel tanks. This wine received a small amount of sulfur and it was filtered prior to bottling.
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