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Everything about my visit to JUSTIN was magnificent.  This winery, located in Paso Robles, makes some very impressive wines from primarily Bordeaux varietals.  The place is huge, and not exactly small production which is sometimes a deterent for me.  However, I would visit again in a heart beat because everything about the visit was…magnificent.

My appointment included a tour of the winery and a tasting.  It was scheduled for early in the day on a cloudy and very cool Sunday morning in March.  The winery is at the furthest corner of Paso Robles, and feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.  The gated entrance to the winery made me feel like we were entering a royal palace, and looking up to the residence of founder Justin Baldwin, confirmed the palatial ambiance (hidden behind the trees in the photo below).

The residence of owner Justin Baldwin

The tour through the caves further confirmed the size of the operation.  The tunnels lined with barrel after barrel went on forever.  They actually had an earthquake in the area years ago so they hired some grad school engineers to design an earthquake proof method to stacking the barrels.  Very cool.

In the caves at JUSTIN

The wines are well made and I can’t say that I have ever met a JUSTIN wine that I did not like.  At the tasting portion of the tour, I sampled several of the current releases, and was so impressed.  The 2010 Chardonnay is made in the Burgundy style; no malolactic fermentation and aged in mostly neutral french oak barrels.  At $19 a bottle, this is a fantastic value.  The tasting also came with a cheese plate which will earn my adoration any day, and really brought out the best in the wines.

The two stars of the tasting for me were the 09 Justification ($45, Cab Franc and Merlot) and the 09 Isosceles ($62, Mostly Cab with Cab Franc and Merlot).  They were both wonderfully rich and elegant wines.  The Justification is considered a “poor man’s Cheval Blanc” after the famous and extremely expensive red Bordeaux wine.  The Isosceles is a quintessential California Cabernet; hints of cassis, coffee and dark cherry accompany this wine with its velvety tannins.  I could have abandoned the rest of the day and drank more of this beauty.

The dining room in the JUSTIN caves

The coolest part of the tour was a visit to the dining room hidden in the depths of the caves.  They store ten different vintages of the Isosceles wine in here and are planning a party to taste through all the vintages.  I would love to go to that!!

If you are fan  Bordeaux varietals and have not tried any of the JUSTIN wines, give them a try.  And if you want to build your own wine cave, visit the winery for ideas on how to build a magnificent one.