Bruce Cohn, manager of the rock band The Doobie Brothers, purchased his Sonoma County winery in 1974, and since then has been equally well known for his olive oil and his philanthropy as for his wine. Cohn seems to have done a fine job of precisely what a family-owned boutique operation should be doing, namely creating high quality wines with a distinct personality. In 2008 Cohn made his first kosher wine, and that wine is well worth the attention of the most devoted of wine lovers. Released in a limited edition of 400 cases (4,800 bottles), the wine is only available directly from the winery and can be ordered by calling 800-330-4064 or by visiting www.brcohn.com. Here’s my tasting note for the wine:
B.R. Cohn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trestle Glen Estate Vineyard, Sonoma, California, 2008 (Kosher Edition): Dark cherry red toward garnet, full-bodied but so well-balanced that it floats gently on the palate. With silky tannins that caress rather than bite, and with a gentle reflection of spices from the oak in which it was developed, the wine opens with clear notes of crushed berries and spices, those parting to make way for black cherries, black pepper and cedar wood – and, on the long finish, a tantalizing note of cocoa powder. A delight. Drink now-2016, perhaps longer. Score: 92.
Serious And Delicious From The Golden State
Let there be no question but that some of the finest kosher wines are being made in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys of California. The following are reviews from three of the wines from three of the very best kosher wineries in the state.
Covenant, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2007: Made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, dark ruby toward royal purple in color, full-bodied and well-extracted, showing gently gripping tannins and opening beautifully in the glass. On the nose and palate currants, plums and cassis, those complemented by notes of mixed spices, sweet cedarwood and light smoky oak. Drink now-2023. $80. Score: 93.
Covenant, Chardonnay, White Covenant, Bacigalupi Vineyard, Russian River, Sonoma, California, 2008: Deep gold, a big and creamy wine. On first attack pears, figs and a note of anise, those parting to make way for white peaches, honeysuckle and gentle notes of licorice and minerals that creep in quietly and linger comfortably on a long, long finish. Taste this one blind and you might be willing to take an oath that this is a Burgundy white of very high class indeed. Drink now-2016. $40. Score: 91.
Covenant, Red C, Napa Valley, California, 2008: Dark garnet toward royal purple in color, medium- to full-bodied, with soft tannins and gentle wood influences. On the nose and palate blackcurrants, blackberries and black cherries, those matched nicely by notes of bittersweet chocolate, garrigue and roasted herbs. Drink now-2016. $40. Score: 90.
Hagafen, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, 2007: Dark garnet toward royal purple, full-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely with fruits and notes of spicy wood. On the nose and palate traditional Cabernet notes of blackcurrants and blackberries, those complemented by notes of mocha, cigar tobacco and, on the long finish, a hint of licorice. Approachable and enjoyable now but best from mid-2011-2015, perhaps longer. $35. Score: 90.
Hagafen, Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, 2008: Dark ruby toward garnet, with both nose and palate redolent with red fruits, those including cherries, raspberries and kirsch. Medium-bodied, with appealing notes of smoky oak and showing hints of black pepper and licorice, all lingering nicely. Drink now-2014. $27. Score: 89.
Hagafen, Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, 2007: Dark garnet with violet reflections, blended with four percent Merlot and showing medium- to full-bodied with generous but not at all imposing oak and tannins now integrating nicely. On the nose and palate black cherries, cassis and citrus peel, and, on the long finish, notes of espresso coffee and licorice. Drink now-2016. $30. Score: 91.
Hagafen, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2008: Light gold with green and orange reflections, medium-bodied. On the nose and palate white peaches, citrus and tropical fruits on a background that hints of citrus peel and candied flowers. Lively and refreshing with just enough complexity to grab the attention. Drink now. $20. Score: 89.
Herzog, Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 6, 2007: Another winner for Herzog. Living fully up to its earlier barrel tasting. Full-bodied, concentrated and deeply tannic but showing fine balance and structure that bode well for the future. On the nose and palate ripe cherries and raspberries, those followed by blackberries and a light and tantalizing hint of celery root. An interesting oxymoron perhaps, but indeed an elegant blockbuster. Drink now-2018. $110. Score: 93.
Herzog, Merlot, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley, 2006: Full-bodied, with generous oak influences and soft tannins in fine proportion to fruits and acidity. On first attack black fruits, those yielding comfortably to notes of wild berries and espresso coffee and, on the finish, hints of strawberries and milk chocolate. Long and mouth-filling. Drink now. $30. Score: 90.
Herzog, Pinot Noir, Special Reserve, Edna Valley, 2005: Ruby toward garnet, medium-bodied, a delicate Burgundy-style wine showing gently caressing tannins and opening to reveal cherry, wild berry and light spices, all lingering long and comfortably. Drink now-2012. $32. Score: 90.
* * *
And Just For Fun
Baron Herzog, Pinot Noir, Jeunesse, 2009: Cherry red toward garnet, medium-bodied, with soft tannins and only a bare hint of toasty oak, showing generous, near-jammy cherry, raspberry and currant fruits. A fine choice as an entry-level wine. Drink up. $14. Score: 85.
Baron Herzog, Cabernet Sauvignon, Jeunesse, 2009: Royal purple in color, an unoaked, light- to medium-bodied wine with only a bare hint of tannins showing a generous berry-cherry personality, the fruits with a hint of sweetness. As its name implies, a wine to be consumed in its youth. Drink up. $14. Score: 83.
Baron Herzog, Chardonnay, Central Coast, California, 2008: The color of freshly dampened straw, light- to medium-bodied, with aromas and flavors of green apples, citrus and spring flowers, those supported by an appealing hint of ground nutmeg. Drink now. $12. Score: 87.
Don Ernesto, Collage White, Napa Valley, 2009: The color of damp straw, with a nose that hints at one moment of spring flowers, at the next of guava, and boasting appealing red grapefruit, tangerine and ripe-peach fruits. As it is every year, a not-at-all complex wine but one that makes for easy and fun drinking, especially when served very well chilled. Meant for drinking in its youth. Drink now. $17.50. Score: 86.
Next month: Fine Kosher Wines From Israel
Daniel Rogov is the world’s premier kosher wine critic and is the author of two annual books, “Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines” and “Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines.” He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.