Brilliance From Sonoma
Winemaker Jeff Cohn releases a huge number of Zinfandels and interesting blends from throughout California. He also makes a handful of truly brilliant Syrahs that will compete with anything coming out of California today.
94 pts The 2016 Viognier Stagecoach Vineyard comes from the southern part of Napa and is a made via a partnership with the Northern Rhône's Yves Gangloff. This flamboyant white gives up a huge nose of apricots, tangerines, flower oil, and honeyed almonds. Deep, rich, full-bodied, and opulent on the palate, it's one pleasure-bent beauty to drink over the coming year or two.
91 pts Another blend from throughout California, the 2016 The Impostor gives up loads of black cherry, red plum, spice, and cedary herbs. It's medium-bodied, fresh, and lively on the palate, with good overall freshness, and a great finish.
92 pts The 2016 Smoke & Mirrors is a value-priced beauty that's packed with character. Black raspberries, spices, cedary herbs, and brambly notes all flow to a beautifully textured, voluptuous, decadent wine that has loads of fruit, no hard edges, and is just a joy to drink.
94 pts The 2016 Zinfandel Orcio comes from Sonoma Valley and is a juicy, fruit forward, undeniably delicious effort that has smoking good notes of blackberries, blueberries, dried earth, crushed rocks, and cedary herbs. This medium to full-bodied, elegant, silky beauty has building tannin, a seamless texture, and a great finish. It certainly shows the quality of the 2016 vintage in Sonoma and is going to drink nicely for a decade or more.
91 pts The 2015 Broken Compass is all old vine Carignan sourced from Sonoma County. It offers loads of black fruits, beetroot, violets, and resinous herbs in a medium to full-bodied, juicy, vibrant style. It has good acidity, fine tannin, classic Carignan character and is going to drink nicely for 5-6 years.
92 pts The 2015 Misc. Stuff is another blend from Cohn that does everything right. Made from 55% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and the rest Mourvèdre, from multiple sites in Sonoma, it has an uber ripe, sexy style as well as loads of black cherries, plums, Asian spices, and licorice aromas and flavors. Ripe, yet balanced and never over the top, with nicely integrated acidity, drink it over the coming 4-5 years.
93 pts From Paso Robles, the 2015 Twist of Fate is 100% Mourvèdre sourced from the Alta Colina Vineyard. Blueberries, strawberries, passion fruit, bay leaf, and some Northern Rhône-like bacon fat notes all flow to a juicy, elegant, yet intense red that has loads of fruit, impressive balance, and a great finish.
93 pts The 2015 Pure Yum checks in as a blend of 67% Syrah and 33% Grenache. It has a Southern Rhône-like exuberance and decadence as well as loads of black cherry fruits, melted licorice, and charred meat aromas and flavors. It's aptly named and is unquestionable pure yum. Drink this ripe, full-bodied red over the coming 3-5 years.
93 pts Coming all from a site in the Russian River, the 2015 Grenache El Diablo Vineyard has a medium ruby color to go with lots of wild strawberries, spice box, red cherries, and dried flowers notes. It's medium to full-bodied, has beautiful purity of fruit, true Grenache character and a great finish. It's a terrific example of the variety from California that will keep for 5-6 years.
95+ pts Sourced from the Russian River Valley portion of Sonoma, the 2015 Petite Sirah Sweetwater Springs Vineyard is shockingly elegant, especially given the variety, which can tend to be overdone and rustic. Blueberries, plums, spring flowers, tobacco, and charcoal notes all flow to a medium to full-bodied, seamless Petite Sirah that has awesome purity, fine yet certainly present tannin, and a great finish. This beauty is going to drink nicely for 15+ years.
92 pts The 2015 Syrah Rockpile Vineyard doesn't have the same singular character as the other Syrahs from this site, yet still offers a beautiful, pure, elegant style that's loaded with charm. Black and blue fruits, violets, crushed rocks, and some marine-like salinity all flow to a medium to full-bodied, beautifully pure, elegant Syrah that has present tannin, good acidity, and a great finish. Drink it over the coming decade or more.
98 pts From the Rockpile Vineyard, the tiny production 2015 Syrah So Serine is one of the gems in this Rockstar lineup. Brought up all in new French oak, it offers a massive bouquet of smoked black fruits, rendered bacon fat, spring flowers, and wet river rock. It's deep, opulent, and seamless on the palate, with full body, a weightless texture, remarkable purity, and blockbuster length. For a wine of this intensity and size, it stays light, elegant, and perfectly balanced. Don't miss it!
94 pts The 2015 Syrah Zio Tony Ranch is a sensational effort that's sourced from a site in the Russian River Valley. This is a cooler region best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but there are some awesome cool-climate Syrahs produced from this region as well. This 2015 (from a warmer, low yielding vintage) offers a huge nose of blackcurrants, plums, spiced meats, and cedary herbs. Deep, medium to full-bodied, and impeccably balanced, it has good acidity, sweet tannin, and no hard edges, all making for one brilliant Syrah to drink over the coming 6-7 years.
96 pts A collaboration with Yves Cuilleron in France's northern Rhône Valley, the 2015 Syrah Domaine des Chirats Rockpile Vineyard is a sensational, rich, layered Syrah that does everything right. Crème de cassis, blueberries, smoked meats, white flowers and exotic spices all flow to a full-bodied, powerful Syrah that would be a dead-ringer for a top Hermitage. It's certainly not for those craving lightweight aromas and flavors, but it has extraordinary purity, awesome depth of fruit, and a great, great finish.
96+ pts The more limited release, the 2015 Syrah Buffalo Hill Rockpile Vineyard is a dense, concentrated, backward effort that's going to need 2-4 years of bottle age to show at its finest. Blackcurrants, smoked meats, cedarwood, and lead pencil characteristics flow to a powerful, full-bodied, Syrah that has ripe, yet present tannin, integrated acidity, and a huge finish. Backward, dense, yet oh so promising, it's world-class stuff and is going to have two decades of overall longevity.
89 pts Coming from the Alexander Valley, the 2015 Zinfandel St. Peter's Church has a spice, dried earth, tobacco, savory character as well as complex notes of plums and ripe black cherries. It's medium-bodied, easygoing on the palate, and while it drops off on the finish, certainly still offers plenty of charm. Drink it over the coming 5-7 years.
92 pts The 2015 Zinfandel Cassata Vineyard is another Sonoma Valley release. This beauty leads with its fruit and offers loads of currants, plums, blueberry, and earthy spice characteristics, full body, a rounded, voluptuous style, and beautiful purity. It gains complexity with time in the glass and, as with all of Jeff's wines, it's beautifully balanced.
93 pts From Sonoma Valley, the 2015 Zinfandel Iron Hill is another ruby/purple-colored effort from Cohn that has plenty of character. Savory earth, iron, dried herbs, and ample blackberry and black cherry fruit give way to a spicy, medium-bodied, savory, balanced Zinfandel that picks up more and more fruit with time in the glass. I love its balance and it's going to cruise for a decade or more in the cellar.
93 pts There's a tiny 184 cases of the 2015 Zinfandel Nun's Canyon Vineyard, which offers a big nose of scorched earth, camphor, balsa wood, and exotic spices to go with loads of plum and black cherry fruits. It's ripe, opulent, packed with sweet fruit, and has a clean, dry finish. It's a classic, hedonistic Zinfandel done beautifully.
90 pts Coming from Amador County, the 2015 Rinaldi Vineyard offers a perfumed, almost Grenache-like perfume of wild strawberries, spring flowers, dried spices, and leather. It's medium-bodied, has bright acidity, and is a lively, clean, impressively balanced Zinfandel to drink over the coming 4-5 years.
94 pts The Russian River 2015 Zinfandel Sweetwater Springs Vineyard gives up a big, boisterous bouquet of black raspberries, plums, Asian spices, cured meats, and cedar. Just screaming Zinfandel at the top of its lungs, it has medium to full body, a rounded, fleshy mid-palate, and loads of charm. It's going to drink nicely for upwards of a decade.
Lisa Perrotti-Brown “In this third installment of my Sonoma coverage of this year, I report on some of the most exciting new releases this region has to offer…. Readers will find recommendations from some of my staple favorites, … including a bevy of opulent Zinfandels from Jeff Cohn and more. Enjoy!”
96 Pts Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2015 Syrah Buffalo Hill Rockpile Vineyard is a little closed to begin, giving way to a rock-star nose of baked plums, crushed blackcurrants, wild blueberries and violets with touches of espresso, licorice, Sichuan pepper and hoisin plus a hint of rose hip tea. Full-bodied and super concentrated in the mouth with layer upon layer of black fruit and savory flavors, it's framed with firm, grainy tannins and fantastic freshness, finishing long and perfumed.
96 Pts The 2015 Syrah So Serine Rockpile Vineyard is deep garnet-purple in color with amazing intensity of crushed blackberries, black cherries and warm plums with touches of Indian spices, violets, Provence herbs and charcuterie. The palate is full-bodied and exquisitely balanced offering fine-grained tannins and great freshness with a very long, multilayered finish.
95 Pts The 2015 Syrah Haley Rockpile Vineyard is medium to deep garnet-purple in color with compelling scents of violets, wilted roses, kirsch and baking spices over a core of wild blueberries and black cherries with wafts of lavender, garrigue and wild thyme. Full-bodied, opulent and possessing a myriad of floral and spicy sparks in the black-fruited mouth, it has a beautiful plush texture and wonderful freshness, finishing very long.
93+ Pts The 2015 Syrah Rockpile Domaine des Chirats Cuilleron Collaboration is deep garnet-purple colored with quite a savory nose of smoked meats, tapenade, truffles and cardamom over a core of crushed blackberries, crème de cassis and blueberry pie with wafts of mocha and dried herbs. Full-bodied with tons of vivacious black fruits in the mouth, it has a plush texture and oodles of freshness, finishing very long and savory.
93 Pts Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2015 Zinfandel Orcio Cassata Vineyard gives up notes of preserved plums, cranberry pie, baked raspberries and raisin cake with touches of dried Provence herbs, espresso and allspice. The decadently fruited, full-bodied palate gives a solid, chewy frame to rein in the boisterous fruit with lovely freshness and a very long, multilayered finish.
92+ Pts A Syrah-based blend, the 2015 #Pure Yum gives a medium garnet-purple color and notes of black cherries, warm plums and baked blueberries with tons of exotic spices, bacon fat and hoisin suggestions in the background. Big, fleshy, full-bodied and with a firm backbone of rounded tannins, it has plenty of freshness and a long, spice-laced finish.
92 Pts Scented of blackberry pie, prunes and sultanas with hints of new leather, fried herbs, tilled soil and oolong tea, the medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Zinfandel Orcio Cassata Vineyard fills the full-bodied palate with dried fruit and earthy layers, supported by chewy tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing long.
92 Pts Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2015 Miscellaneous Stuff GSM Blend displays notes of baked plums, stewed cherries, dried mulberries and blackberry compote with touches of unsmoked cigars, baking spices, garrigue and underbrush. Full-bodied and jam-packed with dried berries and spicy layers, it has a chewy texture and lively lift to the finish.
92 Pts The 2015 Syrah Zio Tony Ranch is very deep purple-black in color with a nose of crème de cassis, blackberry pie and blueberry preserves with licorice, black pepper and fertile earth hints. The palate is full-bodied and chock-full of expressive black and blue fruit preserves with a ripe, rounded tannin frame and plenty of freshness, finishing long and peppery.
92 Pts Medium to deep garnet-purple in color, the 2015 Zinfandel Cassata Vineyard opens with expressive kirsch, stewed plums and baked blackberry scents plus nuances of dried herbs, cardamom, cloves, incense and fertile soil. Full-bodied, rich and boldly fruited in the mouth, it has a grippy frame and just enough freshness to lift the spice-laced fruit to a nice long finish.
91+ Pts The medium ruby-purple colored 2015 Grenache The Fallen Angel El Diablo Vineyard has a seductive nose of kirsch, Chinese five spice, potpourri and white pepper with touches of garrigue and dried lavender. The palate is full-bodied, rich and plush with tons of red berry preserves and spicy layers, finishing long and peppery.
91 Pts Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2015 Zinfandel Iron Hill Vineyard reveals notes of baked plums, spice cake, sandalwood and rose hip tea with an undercurrent of mincemeat pie, dried herbs and star anise. Full-bodied and generously fruited in the mouth, the rich dried berry layers are well-framed by a lively backbone and chewy texture, finishing long and spicy.
91 Pts Medium garnet-purple colored, the 2015 Zinfandel St. Peter's Church Vineyard has a nose of raspberry pie, blueberry compote and preserved plums with underlying hints of scorched earth, Indian spices, tobacco and stewed tea. Big, concentrated and full-bodied in the mouth, it has a racy line and a lovely plush texture, finishing with a compelling herbal lift.
91 Pts The 2015 Zinfandel Sweetwater Springs Vineyard is medium to deep garnet-purple with a nose of prunes, fruitcake and spice box with hints of dried flowers, hoisin, smoked meats and leather. Full-bodied, concentrated and with a tart line cutting through the dense dried-berry flavors, it offers a firm, chewy frame and great length.
90+ Pts Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2015 Carignane Old Vine Broken Compass opens with baked blackberries and preserved plums notes with hints of pencil lead, fertile soil and dried herbs. Big, full-bodied, rich and firmly textured with chewy tannins, it has a tart, refreshing acid line and long, earthy finish.
90 Pts Medium garnet-purple colored, the 2015 Zinfandel Nun's Canyon Vineyard gives up notes of sautéed herbs, dried mulberries and cranberries, Black Forest cake and Chinese five spice with a waft of dusty soil. Full-bodied and packed with prunes and spice box-inspired flavors, it has plenty of freshness and a chewy frame, finishing a bit warm.
89 Pts The 2015 Petite Sirah Sweetwater Springs Vineyard is very deep purple-black in color and scented of baked plums and blueberry pie with a baking spice and rose water undercurrent plus a waft of dried thyme. The palate is very big, powerful and full-bodied with very firm, chewy tannins and just enough freshness to lift the concentrated black fruit layers, finishing on a lingering dried-herbs note.