2012 J. Vineyards Misterra Pinot Noir

Wine Review: 2012 J. Vineyards Misterra Pinot noir Russian River Valley

Misterra is a new wine at J. Vineyards, and by new I mean a blend of grapes no one else has ever blended together. To name this uniquely different California Pinot noir, J. Vineyards winemaker Melissa Stack ran a contest to name the wine. With 90% Pinot noir Pinotage (6%), and Pinot Meunier (4%) comprising the varieties that were used to create the wine it delivers aromas, tastes and textures no other Pinot noir can lay claim to. There is .03% residual sugar left in the wine, contributing to unusual wine Melissa Stackhouse has created. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this wine because it is such a departure from most of the Pinot noir I usually sample. It is almost treason up here in the Willamette Valley to proclaim a proclivity for California Pinot noir, but the palate likes what the palate likes. 

The J. Vineyards Misterra Pinot noir was soft, yet big broad, and focused. Aromas are spicier than most wines that are 100% Pinot noir. County Fair candied apple flavors reflect the trace of residual sugar in the wine with deep blue and red fruit adding to the flavor components. The finish is lengthy and the tannins are slightly pronounced. Combine those characteristics with the excellent flavors and it’s a fun wine to drink. Pinot noir can be fun. It does not have to be scrutinized with a seriousness that sucks the life from the experience. This wine was big enough to pair it with Paprika dry rubbed smoked game hen with Memphis collards.  110 case production.

Rating: Excellent (91) | $50 | 14.3% ABV

J. Vineyards Misterra Pinot noir


About the Author:

Marc has held almost every position in the food & wine industry and is committed to Celebrating Hospitality with Pride. In addition to being the co-founder and editor-at-large for Enobytes, Marc is a wine blogger contributor to OregonLive.com (Wine Bytes) and writes the Wine Knowledge column in the print magazine About Face. The Contra Costa County Times, San Jose Mercury News, Tacoma Times Tribune and Washington Post have either interviewed or quoted Marc on his viniferous and culinary opinions. Marc has also appeared on Portland's "Vine Time" on News Radio 750 KXL and on California's Central Coast "From the Growing of the Grape to the Glass" on KUHL-AM 1410. He is also the author of A History of Pacific Northwest Cuisine: Mastodons to Molecular Gastronomy. While continuing to tenaciously search for what he may finally proclaim as his favorite wine Marc is relentless in his quest for the ultimate food and wine experience.


  1. Bob Henry May 11, 2014 at 4:30 AM - Reply

    This statistic caught my eye:

    “There is .03% residual sugar left in the wine, contributing to unusual wine Melissa Stack has created.”

    Marc, are you suggesting that the J wine is “unusual”-ly sweet tasting?

    Let me cite two articles on the subject.

    Excerpt from Wines & Vines
    (January 2008):

    “Residual Sugar — ‘How Sweet It Is'”

    Link: http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=columns_article&content=61269

    By Tim Patterson

    The TTB does not routinely or systematically test for sugar, in part at least because “dry” has no legal definition. Winemakers have their personal rules of thumb, often around no more than 2 grams per liter. In Germany, 4 grams per liter is defined as dry, although a wine can go as high as 9 grams if balanced with sufficient acidity; and in practice here, many winemakers gravitate toward the same “seems dry because of the balance” approach. On the other hand, lab enologists like John Katchmer of Vinquiry hold to a stricter standard, 1 gram per liter, since anything higher than that can lead to microbial stability issues. You may think the wine is dry, but your local Brettanomyces may not. This range of definitional ambiguity is exactly the zone these allegedly sweetish reds inhabit–3 or 4 or 5 grams per liter, or .3-.5%, enough to make an impression on the palate but not quite enough to register directly with most drinkers as “Golly, there’s some sugar in here.”

    And this:

    Excerpt from Wine Maker
    (Issue: Apr/May 2002):

    “Measuring Residual Sugar: Techniques”


    By Daniel Pambianchi

    Residual sugar concentration is a measure of the amount of sugar solids in a given volume of wine following the end of fermentation and any sugar addition when making a sweet wine. Residual sugar concentration is expressed in grams per liter (g/L) or as a percentage of weight to volume. For example, a wine with 0.2% residual sugar contains two grams of sugar in a liter of wine, or approximately 1/4 ounce in a gallon. Dry wines are typically in the 0.2–0.3 percent range, off-dry wines in the 1.0–5.0 percent range, and sweet dessert wines in the 5.0–15 percent range.

    If the J wine “clocks in” at 0.03% residual sugar, that is well within the threshold of physiologically perceived “dry” wines.

    Repeated for emphasis: “Dry wines are typically in the 0.2–0.3 percent range . . .”

    If there was a typo in your write-up, please revise your text.

    Or if not, please elaborate on why a residual sugar of 0.03% makes the wine “unusual.”


    Bob Henry
    Los Angeles wine consult (stores and restaurants)

  2. Bob Henry May 11, 2014 at 4:32 AM - Reply


    Excerpt from Wine Maker
    (Issue: Apr/May 2002):

    “Measuring Residual Sugar: Techniques”

    Link: http://winemakermag.com/501-measuring-residual-sugar-techniques

    By Daniel Pambianchi

    • Marc Hinton May 14, 2014 at 2:35 PM - Reply


      Thanks for taking the time to read the piece. Also the work you put into advising our readers about residual sugar in wine. I personally have a palate that is super sensitive to residual sugar. The addition of Pinotage combined with the scant residual sugar gave the wine a uniqueness not often found with California Pinot noir. Thanks again for your comments.

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