J Daan Wine Cellar's Justin Van Zanten
by Amy Paul, April 29, 2008
Apprentice Produces Masterful Oregon Wines
It may have been while studying history that Justin Van Zanten realized some of history's finest artists first apprenticed with great masters. In that regard, Justin sought out stints at Chehalem and Adelsheim before landing a permanent gig as Assistant winemaker to Andrew Rich in 2003. While Justin continues to apprentice and learn the trade through Andrew, he has also established the small boutique winery, J. Daan Wine Cellars. It is at J. Daan that he is producing his own affordable and approachable wines sourced from carefully selected vineyard sites.
At just 29 years of age the Washington native and his wife Megan want to make wines that are well crafted but at a price point people "like us" can afford. The goal is for people to be able to enjoy the wines any day of the week, not just special occasions.
J. Daan Wine Cellars, like the Andrew Rich winery, is currently housed at the Carlton Winemaker's Studio cooperative. This allows for not only more cost effective overhead for the young couple but the opportunity for Justin to spend time working for both wineries without commuting.
Justin has received immediate positive feedback for his J Daan wines. He received 90 points from the Wine Advocate for his first J.Daan Pinot noir in 2003 ($18/bottle) and his 2004 Willamette Valley Pinot noir was listed as a “Best Value” by Burghound ($20/bottle).
For the 2006 vintage, he has released a Pinot noir and a Syrah. It is his creative drive and hands on nature that have produced two excellent representatives of both Oregon Pinot noir and Washington Syrah.
Sourced from environmentally sustainable vineyard sites of Hyland, Croft and La Colina, the J. Daan Pinot noir 06 is lush and ready to drink. Juicy raspberry and cherry fruit glides softly on the palate, while the finish lifts with balancing acidity, subtle pie spice, and earth. Nice length, echoing bright yet sweet red fruit. Only 400 cases produced.
The J. Daan Columbia Valley Syrah 05 is full of sweet vanilla and coffee notes that are layered throughout the nose and palate. Sweet cinnamon spice and black cherry have a slight pie like quality that is appealing. Nicely complex and slightly structured, it will age gracefully or drink well now with grilled meats like spring lamb, red potato and shiitake kebabs or hearty vegetarian fare. Only 200 cases produced.