Niner Wine Estates’ Bright, Fresh Wines from Jespersen Ranch in the Edna Valley/SLO Coast AVA

Winemaker Molly Bohlman

Niner Wine Estates has established a solid reputation for excellent rich, Rhone and Bordeaux style red wines made from estate vineyards located in the Willow District of the Paso Robles AVA.  In the past, we’ve visited manager Andy Niner and winemaker Patrick Muran to taste their wines for our reports on the wines of Paso Robles.  A few months ago, we visited Andy once again, this time to taste the winery’s new releases of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and other wines sourced from his Edna Valley vineyard for our upcoming report on the Wines of the SLO Coast.

In 2001, Richard and Pam Niner purchased their first vineyard just off Hwy 46 west of Paso Robles. Today their son Andy (after earning his MBA at UC Berkeley & a few years’ serious work experience) manages the manicured vineyards, state-of-the-art winery, and elegant tasting room. Attracted to the cool climate terroir of the SLO Coast, in 2011 Andy purchased the Jespersen Ranch Vineyard in the northwest corner of the Edna Valley and then sought out a talented winemaker whose focus would be making bright, fresh wines to complement the Paso portfolio. Eventually, he convinced Molly Bohlman (shown here), who was then the winemaker for Paul Hobbs’ Crossbarn brand, to join the Niner team.  We sat down with Molly and Andy at the winery to taste the Jespersen Ranch wines. Later, Andy sent us several new releases to taste in our Washington DC offices.  Information on all the winemakers contributing to the high quality of SLO Coast and Paso Robles Niner wines can be found here.

Jespersen Ranch Vineyard is in the northwest corner of the Edna Valley AVA just west of San Luis Obispo.  It had 31 acres of vines when Andy purchased it; he planted another 46 acres.   Jespersen Ranch fruit is used to make the Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Blanc de Blancs wines of Niner Wine Estates.  Jespersen Ranch is SIP Certified; Andy tells us what that means in this video. As shown in our reviews below, the wines are consistently balanced, fresh and delicious.

The Wines

Jespersen Ranch

Niner 2018 Brut Blanc de Blancs Jespersen Ranch Edna Valley ($80) 93  This is Niner’s first Blanc de Blancs made from a block of Robert Young clone Chardonnay on the Jespersen Ranch. Showing citrus aromas and flavors with a light toasty accent, this is a crisply textured, very fresh and bright sparkler. After a gentle pressing, 90% of the grapes were fermented in stainless steel and 10% fermented using ambient yeasts in neutral French oak. Aged in stainless drums and neutral oak after fermentation. After the second fermentation in July 2019, the wines spent 35 months en tirage and were disgorged with a 4 g/L dosage in May 2022. pH 3.14, 11.6% alc.

Niner 2022 Albariño Jespersen Ranch Edna Valley ($40) 92 This is one of the best balanced Albariños we tasted from Edna Valley in this difficult vintage. It’s flavorful, showing citrus with notes of white peach and lychee on a medium weight palate, finishing crisp, clean, and mineral-like. Harvested in the early morning to retain freshness; whole cluster pressed and fermented and matured 3/4 in stainless steel and 1/4 in concrete vessels for 6 months. No malo. 3.3 pH, 13.2% alc. Excellent winemaking!

Niner 2022 Sauvignon Blanc Jespersen Ranch Edna Valley ($40) 92 The Sauvignon Blanc offers citrus aromas with a thyme-like note. On the palate there’s bright acidity and attractive grapefruit and passion fruit flavors. A full, firm mouth feel benefits from aging in large neutral oak barrels. Clones 376 and 1, whole cluster pressed and fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks and large, neutral oak puncheons. 3.2 pH, 14.2% alc.

Niner 2021 Chardonnay Jespersen Ranch Edna Valley ($40) 93 Made in a modern California style, the Chardonnay is especially appealing with its firm backbone, full-flavored and beautifully balanced palate, and an exceptionally long, rich, mineral-like finish. The oak influence is modest and well-integrated. A barrel selection of clones 95 and 4, hand harvested, fermented with ambient yeast, full malo, and aged 14 months in 55% new French oak with monthly lees stirring. 13.5% alc. 13.5% alc.

Niner 2022 Pinot Noir Rosé Jespersen Ranch Edna Valley ($40) 92 Blush pink. This rosé hits all the right notes. The bouquet reveals pomegranate, rose petals, and cherry skin. The palate shows real fruit, a silky texture, bright acidity, and a very long finish. Perfect for drinking on its own or combining with light fare. Hand harvested on Sept 2, then lightly whole cluster pressed half the grapes. The other half was destemmed and foot-treaded and given three hours skin contact. Aged 6 months in neutral French oak and stainless steel drums with no malo. pH 3.4, 13.9% alc.

Niner 2021 Pinot Noir Jespersen Vineyard Edna Valley ($50) 93 Medium ruby red with scents of pure red cherry and hints of mesquite. Soft and almost sweet on the attack with good purity of red fruit. Softly textured, balanced and focused with good grip and an overall sense of purity and refinement. Five different clones were hand harvested from mid-September to mid-October and then fermented [1/3 with ambient yeast] in small, stainless open-top tanks with about 50 percent stem inclusion. Matured 10 months in 30% new French oak with a small portion aged in concrete.

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Niner Wine Estates’ Bright, Fresh Wines from Jespersen Ranch in the Edna Valley/SLO Coast AVA Niner Wine Estates’ Bright, Fresh Wines from Jespersen Ranch in the Edna Valley/SLO Coast AVA *Niner Wine Estates’ Bright, Fresh Wines from Jespersen Ranch in the Edna Valley/SLO Coast AVA