JAQK Cellars Pinot Noir with Chocolate Lab

JAQK Cellars Pinot Noir with Looking Glass Creamery Chocolate Lab

We purchased this wine and cheese in North Carolina about six weeks back but it just so happens to be a Pinot Noir pairing just after Pinot Noir Day! We found the wine from JAQK Cellars at World Market, a great place to buy wine! This is actually a brand that I first heard about in San Francisco over six years ago while job hunting. The cheese comes from Looking Glass Creamery, which we previously visited with our friend Doris. We figured the intensity of the cheese would pair nicely with a Pinot Noir, let’s see how we did!

When we learned about this brand many years ago, I found out the office was in San Francisco but there were neither grapes nor a tasting room there. Sadly, I continued my search for a place to work. As far as I remember, I never came across this brand again until that day in World Market. The grapes for this pinot noir are grown in Central Coast, CA and all of their grapes are purchased from vineyards around California. There was an article explaining the brand that helped me learn a little more. Look for this wine in Las Vegas casinos, where you’d expect to find something themed J(jack) A(ace) Q(queen) K(king).

Now onto the tasting of the wine! I first made note that the color of the wine was more ruby red than purple. As I swirled the wine I noticed red berry, spice, raspberry, a hint of funk and some earthy aromas. Neil agreed with a few of my notes and added in aromas of cherry and described it’s funkiness as “basement funk”. The texture felt light to medium bodied when I sipped it. Neil found flavors of cherry, red fruit, spice, cherry cordial, a sweetness and a funk that seemed like aged cheese (but he was careful to note it wasn’t the cheese waiting to be tasted). I picked up notes of cherry cola too, which is always fun for me. The flavor really changed throughout our tasting so we both described it as very interesting!

Chocolate Lab cheese

I looked at the wedge of cheese and I couldn’t figure out what shape to cut the slices so I referred back to my photos from the original cheese board at Looking Glass Creamery. I loved that I could smell cocoa wafting through the air. The cheese also smelled like aged milk, funk and salt. I took a nod from Neil and said the cheese funk tasted like a musty basement with a hint of brine. It seemed to get a bit milder as I had more slices. Neil loved that the cheese was so rich and buttery. He picked up salt, a hint of cocoa and couldn’t get over how much it reminded him of a solid chocolate Easter Bunny! He said “This cheese is excellent!” Then just to get another perspective, he tried a really thin slice and it was even more funky, tangy and had a hint of sour milk. Before this tasty cheese is all gone, we better pair it with the wine.

JAQK Cellars Pinot Noir with Looking Glass Creamery Chocolate Lab 2

After all that cheesy goodness, the wine smelled a little sweeter, tasted spicier and had less berry, and the berry seemed to move into the wine finish. The cheese was milder but then turned richer. There wasn’t any funk or cocoa anymore so I’d prefer the wine and cheese separately. Neil also liked them better on their own than paired. He thinks maybe the wine had an alcohol percentage that was too high to pair it with cheese. Neil agreed that the cheese didn’t taste like chocolate anymore either. So obviously, he’d vote to keep that chocolate flavor.

We’ve definitely been having a year of finding wine in surprising places. How fun to finally be able to taste this wine from my past. And after reading about our trip to Looking Glass Creamery, you know what a great time we had there, so I’m happy to write about their cheese again. Here’s to more exciting wines and cheeses in 2019!

Neil imagining those Chocolate Easter Bunnies