"And Jeff Cohn merits a special mention for his incredible Rhône blends and Syrahs." Read the article
Single Vineyard Syrah
99 Another killer Syrah from Cohn that flirts with perfection, the 2018 Syrah Buffalo Hill Rockpile comes from a single vineyard in the Rockpile AVA of Sonoma, and I always find an incredible Hermitage-like character in this cuvée. Deep purple, with a primordial bouquet of crème de cassis and blackberry fruits as well as graphite, scorched earth, bacon fat, and violets, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a layered, multi-dimensional texture, massive amounts of fruit, and a finish that won't quit. It's not for those seeking lightweight aromas and flavors but it nevertheless stays beautifully balanced, has ultra-fine tannins, and a great finish. It will evolve effortlessly for 15 years or more.
99 Coming all from the Rockpile Vineyard in the Rockpile AVA inside the Larger Sonoma County appellation, the 2018 Syrah So Serine sports a deep purple hue to go with a straight-up thrilling bouquet of blueberries, blackberries, smoked game, bacon fat, and spring flowers. Powerful, full-bodied, deep, and intense, it nevertheless stays light on its feet and graceful. A thrill a second, this remarkable Syrah comes close to topping out my scale. Hats off to Jeff Cohn!
Domaine des Chirats
97+ Coming from a collaboration between Jeff Cohn and Yves Cuilleron, the 2018 Syrah Domaine des Chirats is is another dense, rich, super-intense Syrah in the lineup that has incredible complexity in its bright blueberry and cherry fruits as well as notes of violets, white pepper, sandalwood, and bouquet garni-like aromas and flavors. This full-bodied, tannic, powerhouse of a wine develops smokier, Côte Rôtie-like bacon fat as well as more and more structure as it sits in the glass. Do your best to hide bottles for 3-4 years. and it should have two decades of overall longevity.
95 Deep purple-hued, with a meaty, rich, powerful bouquet of smoked blackberries, ground pepper, and some meaty, spicy nuances 2018 Syrah Rockpile Vineyard Haley hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a ripe, concentrated, yet focused texture, building tannins, and a gorgeous finish. This rich, full-throttle beauty comes up just a tad short on elegance, but it sure brings the fruit, opulence, and texture without being heavy or over the top. It will evolve nicely for a good decade.
97 From the Russian River Valley, the 2018 Syrah Silver Eagle Vineyard iis another rich, powerful wine from Cohn that stays graceful and balanced. Lots of smoked black and blue fruits, cured meats, graphite, and spice notes all soar from the glass, and this beauty is full-bodied, with a killer mid-palate, lots of ripe, polished tannins, and a great, great finish. Drink this Hermitage look-alike over the coming 10-15 years.
Zio Tony Ranch
94+ I loved the nose on the 2018 Syrah Zio Tony Ranch, and it's just pure Syrah goodness with its ripe blackberry fruits as well as pepper, game, olive, and violet aromas and flavors. More medium-bodied on the palate, it has a solid sense of freshness and purity, building structure, and a great finish. It will benefit from a year or three and keep for a solid decade.
Single Vineyard Rhônes
Sweetwater Springs Petite Sirah
95 The dense purple-hued, 2018 Petite Sirah Sweetwater Springs Vineyard is a beauty, offering a monster bouquet of blueberry and mulberry fruits that gives way to more peppery herbs, graphite, exotic flowers, and blood orange-like nuances. It's rich, full-bodied, and concentrated, yet it stays light on its feet, has integrated acidity, and a great finish. This exotic, complex, complete beauty will evolve for 15+ years.
El Diablo Grenache
93 Lots of mulled strawberries, flowery incense, and ground pepper notes emerge from the 2018 Grenache El Diablo Vineyard a medium-bodied, beautifully complex, lively Grenache that has silky tannins and no hard edges. It's well worth following over the coming 7-8 years, if not a decade.
2 Guys · 2 Barrels Viognier
91 The 2018 Viognier 2 Guys · 2 Barrels from the Stagecoach Vineyard offers pineapple candy, orange blossom, and wet stone. The palate is ripe with juicy peach and white strawberry and cream. Drink now and over the next 3 years. - Audrey Frick
Single Vineyard Zinfandel
94 Another release from Cohn from Amador County, the 2018 Zinfandel Rinaldi Vineyard sports an almost opaque ruby/plum color to go with impressive red and blue fruits as well as spice, savory herbs, incense, and pepper. Gorgeous on the palate as well, it's medium to full-bodied and has a seamless, elegant texture, present tannins, and a great finish. This is pure, all-star American Zinfandel to enjoy over the coming 4-6 years.
94 From a great vineyard in Sonoma and all varietal, the 2018 Zinfandel Rossi Ranch Vineyard reveals a dense ruby/plum hue to go with a rich, meaty bouquet of red and black plums, sandalwood, cigar wrapper, peppery herbs, and iron. Rich and beautifully textured, with building structure, this medium to full-bodied Zinfandel is going to drink brilliantly for a solid decade, if not longer.
93+ From a vineyard I’m not familiar with, 2018 Zinfandel Iron Hill Vineyard has a big, boisterous bouquet of blueberries, candied orange peel, mint, and funky herbs. This carries to a medium-bodied Zinfandel that has a rounded, elegant texture, a solid spine of acidity, and ripe, sweet tannins that emerge on the finish. It’s another rich yet elegant wine that’s a joy to drink.
Sweetwater Springs 'Isabel'
93 The 2018 Zinfandel Isabel comes from the Landy Sweetwater Springs Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. Offering an almost Rhône-like nose of spiced black and blue fruits, bacon fat, candied violets, and pepper, this beauty hits the palate with medium-bodied richness, supple, polished tannins, and outstanding length. There's a firm edge here that's going to benefit from short-term bottle age, and this beauty will certainly drink nicely for at least a decade.
Orcio Sweetwater Springs 'Isabel'
93 Coming all from the Sweetwater Springs Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, 2018 Zinfandel Orcio boasts a deep purple color as well as classic Zinfandel notes of spiced plums, mulled strawberries, flowers, licorice, and incense. Medium to full-bodied, with beautiful purity of fruit as well as elegance on the palate, give this charming, elegant Zinfandel another year or two in bottle and enjoy through 2030.
91 One of the more ethereal Zinfandels in the lineup, the 2018 Zinfandel Maggie's Vineyard, which comes from a site in the Sonoma Valley, reveals a translucent ruby hue as well as pretty notes of spiced cherries, strawberries, wildflowers, loamy soil, and cedary spice. Medium-bodied on the palate, it brings beautiful sweetness of fruit in a light, balance, almost delicate package. It should drink nicely for 4-6 years.
St. Peter's Church
91 The 2018 Zinfandel Iron Hill Vineyard reminds me of a top Châteauneuf with its red and black fruits, peppery herbs, violets, and herbes de Provence-like aromas and flavors. These all carry over to the palate, where the wine shows more classic Zinfandel cigar and cedary notes as well as medium to full-bodied richness, ripe yet firm tannins, terrific balance, and a great finish. This is another impeccably made, satisfying, age-worthy beauty from the talented Jeff Cohn! Give it a few years and enjoy over the following decade.
The First Date
94 Checking in as a blend of 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Roussanne, the 2018 The First Date is another rocking white from Cohn, who seems able to make great wines from just about any variety. Light gold colored, with a hint of green, it offers loads of ripe peach, Caramelized citrus, and brioche in a rounded, supple, full-bodied, incredibly sexy style. It's a white geared for the differ table and would give any number of Southern Rhône whites a run for their money.
Smoke & Mirrors
92 Coming all from Sonoma County, the 2018 Smoke & Mirrors is always a good value, and this vintage is no exception. Lots of bright blueberry and plummy fruits give way to a medium-bodied, nicely textured wine that has plenty of peppery herbs and incense aromatics, good acidity, and a clean, lengthy finish. It doesn’t match the 2016, but it’s an outstanding, pleasure-bent effort that will evolve nicely for 7-8 years.
91 Also all from Sonoma County, the 2018 Pure Yum checks in as 67% Syrah and 33% Grenache that has Cotes du Rhône-like style in its peppery dark fruits, garrigue, and underbrush-like aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied and focused, with present yet ripe tannins, it’s a fruit-loaded yet structured, balanced wine from Cohn to enjoy over the coming 5-7 years or so.
The 2018 Growing Season
A classic, elegant vintage for the region, featuring a long, even growing season, no heat spikes, a huge crop, and perfect, cool weather through harvest. These are complex, nuanced, and layered wines, with the best having an incredible mix of richness and elegance. The massive yields affected Chardonnay more so than the Pinot Noirs, and the only downside to the vintage could be that they might not be the longest-lived. The vintage shares similarities with 2016, yet the wines are even more expressive and complex. Most are already drinking nicely, yet I remain convinced the top wines will have broad drink windows.
Photo Credit: jebdunnuck.com
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