Outstanding California Wines
New reviews of Syrah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and more from across the Golden State, each priced under $40
2010 Landy Sweetwater Springs Petite Sirah - 93 pts Wine Spectator. A huge wine, not for the faint of heart. Offers vivid aromatics of coffee and campf...
"Rockpile is a new AVA that you will hear more and more about in the future. This region produces outstanding wines and we believe the Rockpile Vineyard is one of the best examples of this appellation. With a strong coastal influence, temperatures are kept moderate during the day and cool at night. At 2000 feet, it has the highest elevation in the region. This puts it above the fog line giving the vines more sun exposure, thus better ripening." -Jeff Cohn
A wine of dense purple color followed by aromatics of sweet, wild red and black berries intertwined with the intoxicating perfume of smoked game, vanilla, minerals and roasted herbs. Rich, lush, and concentrated, and compelling best describes the amazing texture profile of this full-bodied wine.
The 2007 Syrah Rockpile Vineyard (458 cases) needs some additional bottle time. Meaty, roasted herb, espresso, blackberry, and chocolate aromatics ooze from the glass of this black/purple-colored wine. Intense, full-bodied, and loaded with tannin and extract, it should drink well for a decade.
Intense and vibrant, with rich, full-bodied blackberry, wild berry and blueberry fruit that's deep and concentrated, focused and pure, ending with a long, persistent finish that gushes with fruit and is supported by ripe tannins. Drink now through 2015. --J.L.
From a 2,000 foot elevation vineyard in the Rockpile area (which is now entitled to its own appellation name), the sensational 2006 Syrah Rockpile Vineyard exhibits notes of camphor, acacia flowers, and blue as well as blackberries. This full-bodied, multilayered, rich, super-concentrated Syrah ca be drunk now or over the next decade.This is a dazzling example of this new AVA.
The Rockpile region is not likely to be the place where Syrah runs into limits and seeks polish, but this wine, admittedly both bold and very much on the rugged side, still possesses nicely formed blackberry fruit, complementary oak, and notes of dark soils, tar and dried spices. It is about equal in weight to the wine above [2006 JC Cellars Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah] but is noticeably fleshier and chewier in texture. Withal, this one probably drinks younger than its mate simply because of its fruit is a trifle more open at its heart.
Jeff Cohn, the former winemaker at Rosenblum Cellars—a producer of particularly fine vineyard-designate Zinfandels—stepped out on his own in 2006 to devote his full energies to JC Cellars. His modus operandi resembles that of his former employer, Kent Rosenblum: Establish relationships with the finest growers across the state to produce modest quantities of immodestly great wine. Although Cohn produces more than 20 different Rhône-style wines in his Oakland, Calif., warehouse-cum-winery, the Syrahs he has sourced from the Rockpile Vineyard—a rugged scrap of terrain situated on a peak above Lake Sonoma—are his masterpieces. The JC Cellars 2006 Rockpile Vineyard Haley's Reserve Syrah is as intense and generous as the vineyard is spartan and bleak. The scent of wildflowers greets the nose, while unctuous brambleberry juice and concentrated black-cherry liqueur wash over a deep core of ripe tannins. —B.A.
Floral, dried berry, soy and sage aromas are rich and intense, with spicy, cedary oak and loads of blackberry and currant fruit that’s pure, focused and firmly structured. Drink now through 2012. 259 cases made.
Consistently one of my favorites JC cellars wines is their Syrah
Rockpile Vineyard. The 2004, 100% Syrah aged in French oak boasts an
opaque black/purple color as well as a gorgeous nose of blackberry
liqueur intermixed with melted licorice, smoked meats, acacia flowers
and a talcum powder-like stony minerality. Powerful (16.3% alcohol)
with superb underlying acidity and layers of richness, this is a
blockbuster Syrah that should drink well for a decade.
This formidably-endowed Syrah, dense purple-colored offering
boasting a sumptuous bouquet of vanilla, blackberry liqueur, cherries,
licorice and peppery spice. Massive in the mouth, but well-balanced,
with impressive purity, layers of fruit and glycerin, and a rich, long
finish, this backward Syrah need 1-3 years of bottle age, and should
keep for 12-15.
A delicious orchestration of ripe, rich fruit, built around a core
of blackberry, blueberry and boysenberry fruit, which a dash of spice,
cedar and kirsch, ending with firm but ripe and supple tannins, ending
with a long, persistent finish. Drink now through 2010.
They don't get much bigger, richer, fuller, deeper or riper than
this absolutely fully stuffed offering from Jeff Cohn. Never on to
eschew the density and extract available in the big reds, Cohn has here
delivered a blockbuster that will win friends among those who can
accept the weight and complexity in this one without minding its
substantial (15.9% alcohol). For, make no mistake about it, this wine
trades its amazing intensity for its spiking heat in the finish. It
will certainly age well, but it is likely to show best in its first
This blockbuster (from a red soil vineyard planted at 2,000 feet)
boasts a gorgeous perfume of boysenberries, blueberries, blackberries,
lavender, toast and licorice. Full-bodied, with a voluptuous texture in
addition to dry tannins lurking behind the extravagant fruit and
concentration, this terrific Syrah should hit its prime in 1-2 years,
and last for a decade.
High-toned, superrich and fleshy, with layers of plush blackberry,
boysenberry, fresh earth, mineral, mocha and toasty oak delivered in a
seamless package, finishing with an elegant burst of ripe fruit. Drink
now through 2009.