Joseph Family Vineyards

2006 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon •Estate Vineyard

California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley

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What We Say


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Mission Codename: Bulls + Justice = Great Wine

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Revisit our old friends at Joseph Family Winery and acquire their delicious Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Joseph Family Winery

Wine Subject: 2006 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Scott Peterson


The Alexander Valley in northeast Sonoma County is located on the western side of the Mayacamas range and extends westward to the edge of the Russian River Valley. This appellation was formerly considered a part of Dry Creek Valley but became its own appellation in November 1984. The region is best known for exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but recently people are starting to discover its Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Chardonnay as well.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deepest dark and brooding garnet purple with a dense clear core that let’s just hints of ruby streaked light though. Along the edges, the color remains garnet and when swirled tightly spaced thick color laden legs immediately ring the glass.

Smell – Bright and plush aromas of rich ripe black fruit including black cherry and blackberry are layered over hints of cedar and toasted oak, wild anise and powdered cocoa.

Feel – Initially smooth on the attack with its powder textured tannins hitting at mid palate. This dry full-bodied wine is expansive, well-strucutred and chewy with balanced easy acidity.

Taste – Rich and generous, this fruit forward wine has plenty of black cherry, blackberry, hints of wild raspberry and plum that are supported by classic Cab notes of mocha, wild anise, cedar and subtle sweet tobacco and toasted oak.

Finish – Long and lingering dark black fruit fade gently as the powder textured tannins linger on for several minutes.

Conclusion – The 2006 Joseph Family Winery Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a rich and expansive Cabernet that while is youthful and fruit forward has enough structure to cellar for several years to come. Generous dark black fruit is the hallmark of this wine so you’ll enjoy pairing it with rich grilled beef or lamb.

Mission Report:


AGENT RED: Greetings, Jon. We are thrilled to be showing your Cabernet today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
JON JOSEPH: Thanks, Agent Red. Its great to be working with you, again!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

JON: When my Nonno Tocalino, who live in North Beach and made his own wine, gave me a small glass of watered down wine when I was five years old. It went great with Nonni’s Gnocchi.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

JON: We have been influenced by two winemakers, Scott Peterson, who is a relatively high touch classicist, and David Ramey, who is wholly a low-touch naturalist.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

JON: We now make only our own wine.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

JON: This Cabernet Sauvignon v2006 won a double gold at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest such competition in the country, and scored 90 points from International Wine Cellar (Tanzer).

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

JON: Grilled meats like steak, lamb, or pork chops, and meat rich sauces on pasta.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Alexander Valley so special?

JON: Only 15 minutes from Napa Valley, this valley has much of the same growing characteristics and wine quality but the wines are far more reasonably priced.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

JON: We are preparing for harvest in early October; it has been a wet and highly variable growing season.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

JON: This is first and foremost a food wine. Enjoy it with friends, family and a wonderful dinner.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

JON: Alexander Valley is undergoing a renaissance of recognition, with wine makers like David Ramey, Jennifer Higgins, and Jesse Katz greatly impacting the quality of the wine there. You will hear more and more about this region in coming years.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Bq. For your entertainment, what follows is our original mission to today’s winery:

Puma concolor. The California Mountain Lion. There I was, face to face with one of the largest males I had ever seen – and did he ever look hungry!

He emitted a low growl as he circled me, sizing me up. Then he lunged for my ankles…


“Okay, Agent Whiskers, you can see the bottle now.”

Agent Whiskers, as most of you Operatives know, is a Wine Cat. While much fuss is made over Wine Dogs – what, with entire coffee table books devoted to them – the Wine Cat is the unsung hero of the winery, keeping both cellar and vineyard free from rodents and other pests.

Agent Whiskers, Codename: Meowbec due to his unusual love for the Malbac grape varietal, is a special sort of Wine Spy. His ability to detect superior wine, before a bottle is ever even opened, for example, is uncanny. Watch for a Meowbec mission upcoming. For now, back to today’s wine:

I show Meowbec the bottle. On the label, a proud California Mountain Lion stands high above a vineyard. I place the bottle on the desk and Meowbec jumps up to inspect it. After gazing at the label for a moment, Meowbec declares, definitively, “Mert!”, an expression I have come to know means, “Great wine!”.

Opening the bottle I offer the cork to Meowbec, who bats it off the desk and onto the floor. His work done for now, he jumps down and proceeds to play a spirited round of cork hockey, a game that will likely last until the first of his afternoon siestas.

The wine is, indeed, excellent. No surprise here, really. Jon Joseph and his team are sincere, dedicated wine folk that are supremely dedicated to their craft.

A richly layered ad well-balanced Cabernet Sauvignon, I found best results after a few hours of decanting. This is a wine that loves to breathe a little before it is imbibed. If you have the patience to let the wine sit for a while, you will be duly rewarded.

Kudos to Jon and the rest of the Joseph Family, ummm, family, for producing such an excellent Cab. Meowbec and the rest of us here at Wine Spies Central Command love the wine!

Keen Operatives will note the location of the Joseph Family vineyards and the proximity to their prestigious neighbors!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The approximate location of the Joseph Family Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

Our vintage 2006 Cabernet was harvested the first week of October. Our records show that this was a drier year, with lower rainfall, but a long, mild growing season. Yields that year were also lower, but the quality of the fruit was exceptionally high. As usual, we intentionally cropped our vines to yields of only about two tons per acre.

As with all our vintages, the 2006 was made in a classic Bordeaux style, with extended maceration (the juice left on the skins for over 30 days) and aged in 65% new French oak for 21 months.

Created by Scott Peterson and finished by David Ramey, the 2006 vintage is multi-layered, with black cherry infused with a hint of cedar and mocha. The fruit is beautifully balanced with a smooth and long finish. Unfiltered but naturally fined, this wine has tremendous structure and fruit, without the feel of excessive tannins or acids, the result of seamless integration of the oak and fruit in barrel.

The Vineyard:

The vineyard is located on a bench above the Russian River alluvial plain at the southeast corner of the Alexander Valley. The cabernet sauvignon vines are planted in a shallow pebble loam and are low yielding. The south-facing vines are meticulously cared for. We prune the thick canopy to give the grapes plenty of noon-day sun while allowing for cooling shadows in the afternoon and the chill of an occasional evening fog. This unique location was prized for 15 years by our former grape buyer, who would feature the wines over dozens of suppliers at the annual Alexander Valley Association barrel tasting. We feel truly blessed with a terroir unique even to Alexander Valley, allowing us to yield a quality of fruit that can compete with any in the world.

The Winemaker:

Winemaker Scott Peterson has directed red wine programs at Villa Mt. Eden, Conn Creek (where he worked with the legendary Andre Tchelistcheff) and for some years at Kendall-Jackson, where he became familiar with our vineyard. For the last seven years Scott has served as a consultant to artisan wineries in California and produces his own small-lot vintages under the S.P. Drummer label. Our winemaking starts in the vineyard, in no small part due to John Piña and Piña Vineyard Management, who has cared for some of the finest vineyards in Napa County for over 40 years.

About The Winery:

Joseph Family Vineyards is a partnership of two families. Jon Joseph, president, is a former Wall Street executive with financial market experience in New York, Tokyo and San Francisco. Bill Esselstein, general manager, spent over 40 years practicing public agency law in Menlo Park, CA.

Bill is on the board of the Alexander Valley Winegrowers association, while JFV is also a member of the Sonoma County Grape Growers association, the Family Winemakers of California and Alexander Valley Outlaws – a group of small, family-owned artisan wineries in Alexander Valley.

Technical Analysis:

Alcohol: 14.5%

Cases produced: 1230

Sugars at harvest: 25.8° brix

Harvest Date: October 6, 2006

TA: 6.20 g/l

Bottle Date: July 16, 2008

Acidity: 3.66 pH

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