Recent Sips: Judd's Hill 2012 Viognier and 2010 Cabernet Franc

Hello Friends,

Today’s Quick Sip segment features Judd’s Hill 2012 Viognier and 2010 Cabernet Franc. Judd’s Hill is located in California’s Napa Valley and is owned and operated by two generations of the Finkelstein family. Founders, Art and Bunnie Finkelstein, started producing wines in the area with the creation of Whitehall Lane Winery in the 1970s. After leaving Whitehall Lane in the late 1980s, Art established Judd's Hill to focus on quality over quantity. Today, the winery specializes in small-batch, finely-crafted wines with an annual production of less than 3,000 cases.

While Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are Napa Valley’s most widely planted varieties, it’s always fun to discover small lots of varietal wines you wouldn’t necessarily associate with the region (like Viognier and Cabernet Franc). And just as fun – not to mention, interesting – is how the lay of the land, Mother Nature, and the influence of the winemaker comes together to express those wines in the bottle. Both of these wines were recently tasted by a small group of friends and me while we watched a live broadcast of CellarPass TV. Debuting on CellarPass TV was Art and Bunnie's son, Judd Finkelstein, who is involved in every facet of the family business. Judd, along with a pirate, a ukulele, and a cyclist, made for the most entertaining episode of CellarPass TV I think I’ve ever watched. Click here to check it out. Most importantly, the wines were pretty tasty, too!  For further information and where you can find these wines, please see my tasting notes below.

Judd's Hill 2012 Viognier

Review: Judd's Hill Winery 2012 Viognier (SRP $34): This Viognier is pure and fresh with succulent yellow-fleshed fruit on the entry alongside stone fruit and trailing white flowers. It has nice weight in the mouth with a tangy, mouthwatering acidity, running through an elegant texture with a vibrant, persistent finish. The producer suggests pairing a bottle with “baked tilapia with tomato and basil, butter poached shrimp scampi with linguini, or coconut curried salmon on a bed of Israeli couscous.”  All three food pairings are on point and sound wonderful! The fruit for this wine was sourced from a site with a relatively cool micro-climate, which has allowed the wine to maintain a delightful and bright character from start to finish. Approximately 125 cases of this wine were produced. Region: Napa Valley, California. 90 Points. Click here to find this wine.

Judd's Hill 2010 Cabernet Franc

Review: Judd’s Hill Hampton Vineyard 2010 Cabernet Franc (SRP $48): This is a small-production Cabernet Franc that shows shades of its more popular off-spring, Cabernet Sauvignon. It opens with a relatively full and luscious palate of ripe blackberries, blackcurrant, and plum aromas and flavors that are followed by (dried) red fruit undertones and violet notes over a velvety texture, ending with a touch of anise on the lasting finish. Overall, this is a fairly rich and fruit-focused example with seamless tannins and soft but balanced acidity that’s a fine solitary sipper or a good match for grilled red meats. Approximately 48 cases of this wine were produced. Region: Napa Valley, California. (Other info: ABV 14.4%, cork enclosure). 89 Points. Click here to find this wine.

Backyard Feathered Friends: American Goldfinch

About CellarPass TV: #CellarPassTV is an informative weekly wine broadcast in which some of California’s top winemakers, winery owners, and people in the food and wine industry are interviewed by host Sarah Elliman. Their website,, is a leading destination for online winery reservations that’s well worth checking out if you’re thinking about visiting California wine country. To view this episode of CellarPass TV, click here.

Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned ...more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: These wines were provided for review. Thoughts are my own.

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