JC Cellars News
April 18th, 2014
91 points from The Wine Spectator for our 2012 Smoke and Mirrors?
February 2nd, 2014
Wine & Spirits Magazine
The Isabel Dusi Vineyard sits along Highway 101 in Paso's Templeton Gap - which means that is gets some cooling influence from the Pacific. The vines here are 60 to 80 years old, dry farmed, the zin interrupted by an occasional vine of carignane. In 2011, these old vines delivered fruit with a heady ripeness that feels vigorous rather than jammy. A ping of acidity points the fruit toward black raspberry flavors, shot through with scents of black pepper, pine needles and smoke. A cooling layer of tannin keeps it on the rails and provides plenty of length. Have this on hand for roast leg of lamb - it's a beautiful example of what zin can do on Paso's sunny, rolling hills.
December 31st, 2013
JC Cellars' Ringing in the New Year with more scores on the 2011 wines with reviews from Robert Parker!
Words From The Man Himself:
Jeff Cohn, one of my favorite winemakers, consistently fashions personality-filled, pleasurable wines from well-known sources and intriguing micro-climates. He also puts together some fascinating blends as this tasting demonstrated - Robert M. Parker, Jr.
The 2011 Zinfandel Landy Sweetwater Springs Vineyard came in at 15.5% natural alcohol, so Cohn was clearly going for maximum ripeness even in 2011. It exhibits a slightly more late harvest character compared to the St. Peter’s Church cuvee, but it is a killer Zinfandel. An inky/ruby/purple color is followed by abundant black cherry and blackberry fruit intermixed with notes of graphite, spice box and earthy undertones. Full-bodied and opulent, this beautiful 2011 should drink well for 4-5 years. 92 Pts.
The black/purple-hued 2011 Syrah Buffalo Hill Rockpile Vineyard rivals the So Serine cuvee for color saturation. It possesses explosive aromatics of spice, pepper and incense, a full-bodied mouthfeel, a complete mid-section, and a long finish. A tour de force in a challenging year such as 2011, this serious Syrah is accessible now, but should drink well for a decade or more. 92 Pts.
Zinfandel has long been one of Jeff Cohn’s specialties, and his 2011 Zinfandel St. Peter’s Church Vineyard reveals a surprisingly dense, ruby/purple color as well as remarkable concentration and intensity (especially for a 2011), lots of briery, peppery, berry fruit intermixed with a touch of incense, and a full-bodied mouthfeel. This impressive effort is one of the top Zinfandels in this challenging vintage. Drink it over the next 4-5 years. 91 Pts.
The 2011 The Impostor, a modestly priced blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Carignan and Roussanne, comes primarily from Sonoma. Another winner from Jeff Cohn, it offers lots of raspberry, black cherry and licorice-infused black fruits, an attractive, open-knit, round, juicy mouthfeel, medium to full body and a touch of wood. This delicious, hedonistically and intellectually pleasing red can be consumed over the next 4-5 years. 90 Pts.
Another 100% Syrah offering is the 2011 Syrah So Serine Rockpile Vineyard. As black as a moonless night, it possesses lots of sweet black raspberry and blackberry fruit with a floral underpinning that made me think of the hillsides of Cote Rotie in the Northern Rhone Valley. The wine possesses good tannin, a slight deficiency in fat and charm on the mid-palate, but a beautifully pure and exciting style. It is a success in this problematic vintage. Enjoy it over the next 7-8 years. 90 Pts.
The 2011 Grenache The Fallen Angel El Diablo Vineyard (100% Grenache) offers the lavender, pepper and kirsch characteristics that define this wonderful varietal that has come of age over the last decade. With good acidity and hefty, but well-hidden alcohol (15.3%), this tasty Grenache should drink well for 4-5 years. 89 Pts.
The 2011 Pinot Noir Lancel Creek Vineyard is an excellent effort in this tough year. Lots of earth, underbrush, black cherry and pomegranate fruit notes hit the palate with a luscious texture, medium body, good acidity for vibrancy, and a nice finish. There is nothing vegetal or angular about this complex, evolved, impressive Pinot. Drink it over the next 4-5 years. 89 Pts.
One of the less expensive wines in this portfolio is the 2011 Smoke and Mirrors, a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan from Sonoma. At first I thought this might be an homage to our DC legislators. It is simply a creative blend offering lots of raspberry and black cherry fruit intermixed with notes of licorice and lavender. The enticing bouquet is followed by a juicy, succulent, round, full-bodied beauty with a Mediterranean-like personality. Think of it as a Rhone Ranger that offers the reality of good winemaking combined with excellent fruit sources. Drink it over the next 2-3 years. 89 pts.
The opaque purple-colored 2011 Syrah Haley Rockpile Vineyard (100% Syrah) is loaded with intoxicating aromas of blackberries, white flowers and an underlying wood component. The complex aromatics are followed by a wine with a big framework and foundation, but perhaps a slight deficiency in charm and flesh on the mid-palate. Nevertheless, it is pure and ripe, and if it fills out, it will merit an even higher score. It should drink well for 5-6 years. 88+ Pts.
Made from old vine Carignan, the 2011 Broken Compass (15.2% alcohol) is a classic Carignan, which I always find rustic and uncivilized. It is capable of considerable interest, especially when it’s young and not yet had a chance to get even more gnarly. This good, solid effort displays lots of red and dark fruits, plenty of loamy, dusty soil undertones, and the gritty character often found in Carignan. Drink it over the next 4-5 years. 87 Pts.
November 5th, 2013
This week’s focus is on recommended values from across the Golden State, including zesty Zinfandel blends, refreshing Rhône-style whites and a handful of distinctive rosés. The wines are appealing for their quality and wallet-friendly prices, but are also approachable now, making them good candidates for a relaxed dinner or impromptu get-together.
Zinfandel producers sometimes add a touch of Petite Sirah to their wines to add color and structure, but Saracina winemaker Alex MacGregor takes it a step farther, adding 25 percent Petite in the Atrea Old Soul Red. Meanwhile, Jeff Cohn, of JC Cellars, uses Rhône varieties such as Syrah and Grenache in his Zin blend, Smoke & Mirrors.
California vintners have been making strides with white Rhône grapes, and several blends in this selection are anchored by Grenache Blanc. In the best examples, the grape can produce full-bodied wines with refreshing acidity, as seen in the striking Côtes-du-Rôbles Blanc from winemaker Gary Eberle. The Flux Blanc, meanwhile, is a blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussanne from Cabernet winemaker Mark Herold.
Rosé fans can find smoky and spicy versions from Flux and Eberle here as well. The Grenache-based wines from Anglim and Groundwork will be harder to track down, but offer good bang for the buck.
JC CELLARS Smoke & Mirrors California 2011 Score: 90 | $25
A fun quaff, zesty and jammy, but focused and restrained. This is loaded with black raspberry, toasty vanilla, licorice and bitter chocolate flavors. Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Grenache. Drink now through 2020. 600 cases made.
July 2nd, 2013
Large Format Barrels
The big and small of it all
by Jeff Cohn