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An Interview With Winemaker Jordan Kubek

If you’ve been dining out at small restaurants and bars around town lately, you may have encountered Pamplemousse Jus on the wine list.

The unusual name stands out on the menu; its playful label stands out on the shelf; and its bright, fresh, fun flavour profile stands out in the glass. Where did it come from? What is so exciting about it? And how can you get your hands on some? We caught up with winemaker Jordan Kubek to find out…

You’ve been in the wine game for 11 years now. In addition to being the winemaker at Lightning Rock Winery, and a mom, you have also recently taken on a new project: Pamplemousse Jus. Are there enough hours in your day?

There never seem to be enough hours, but I have an amazing village that keeps everything going: Lightning Rock, which I started with my husband and dad five years ago, has just recently found its groove, so it requires less of that starting-out energy. I just need to find time to be out in the vineyard this time of year, which I happily do. My son, Finn (just about to turn three) is loved by people all over the valley, and many of them help us take care of him. Pamplemousse Jus was a dreamy project started by our friends, and I loved the wines immediately. I have a hard time saying “no” to projects I believe in so, along with James Langford-Smith, we took the wines in, and finished them off so that we could share them – a total pleasure.

“Pamplemousse Jus wines are a bit more risky and wild which feels very free and different.”

Why did you decide to take on this project (what makes Pamplemousse Jus different from your position as a winemaker)?

With Lightning Rock we are very serious and focused on terroir expression and regenerative agriculture. We are really proud of the wines we make and hope to continue making them in this way for a long time. We even have a more serious sparkling wine project in the works. Pamplemousse Jus wines are a bit more risky and wild which feels very free and different. I am learning a lot with these wines and I always want to be learning.

You’ve been making weekend trips to the city to introduce restaurateurs, chefs and sommeliers to Pamplemousse Jus – how has making these introductions cemented your understanding of your own wine?

That is a really great question. It has been overwhelming how enthusiastically the industry professionals are reacting to this project. There is a lot that I love about these wines. At first the love was based on where the wine came from and the people who worked to get the wine into bottles (the whole team had so much respect, inspiration and enthusiasm, it was contagious). But in talking to chefs about how they would pair the wine, or to a somm about how they might explain the wine to a customer, my relationship with the wine evolved to be more about the flavour profiles. This might seems obvious, but I’m not talking about the concept in a ‘tasting notes’ way – more like I came to understand each individual bottle as part of a meal, almost as an ingredient.

How do you answer the question about whether or not there is grapefruit in your wine?

It is wine made from grape…fruits. Haha! It was a silly idea born on a pet-nat bottling line late at night after our harvest party. I am trying to learn French from Yazid, who works with me, and at the time I thought this was really clever. 0% grapefruit, 100% fun.

The details

The team behind Pamplemousse Jus Made 700 cases of wine. They released 600 cases of Pet Nat and Piquette into the market in early February (and still have two reds that they plan to release in early May – both of which are in very limited quantities). Short story: this wine is selling out. At the time of publishing, five Pamplemousse wines are still available to order. These are:

Gew Pet Nat (220 cases made 140 left); Leon Millot Pet Nat (130 caes made 70 left); Leon Millot Piquette (63 cases made – 35 left); Pinot Pinot Piquette (41 cases made – 27 left); Alois Piquette (21 cases made – 10 left)

This “Made By Friends To Be Drunk By Friends” wine is perfect for the park/beach/backyard dinner party weather to come. Get in on the action while you can.

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