© 1996 JDM Enterprises
ROCK & ROLL VINTNERby Jerry D. Mead
By JERRY D. MEAD It was just about 10 years ago that Bruce Cohn brought me the first B.R. Cohn wines and made me the first wine scribe to review the wines of the then fledgling winery. It was just about ten years before that when Cohn bought the Sonoma estate on which the grapes were grown (he sold the grapes to other wineries before building his own), and five years before that when fortune smiled upon him to provide the wherewithal to buy a vineyard and establish a winery.
Just out of college and working behind the scenes at a small tv station, Cohn became interested in recording engineering and met a group of musicians he would help to become the world famous Doobie Brothers. Cohn has been described as the "non-performing" Doobie and has been, and still is, the group's manager.
In the decade since I met him, his estate Cabernet Sauvignon has developed an almost cult following, two of his winemakers have developed star-quality images and gone on to do their own things, more acreage has been planted and Cohn has started an olive oil business as well.
Did I recognize the potential of that first Cabernet, way back when? Does a one-legged duck swim in circles?
Cohn's wines are currently being made by Mike Guylash and legendary consulting winemaker Merry Edwards. Edwards' deft hand at Chardonnay has already evidenced itself. The current releases have to be Cohn's best Chardonnays ever.
B.R. Cohn 1995 "Sonoma Valley" Chardonnay ($15) Toasty nose; nicely oaked apple fruit; toasty vanilla after-flavors. Good wine; good value. Rating: 88/88
B.R. Cohn 1995 "Carneros Reserve-Joseph Hermann Vineyard" Chardonnay ($24) Roasty, toasty, smoky, butterscotch on apple fruit. Much more (and newer) French oak on this very complex wine. Very long, complex, smoky aftertaste. Exceptional. Rating: 94/86
B.R. Cohn 1994 "Olive Hill Estate" ($34) Forgive the cliche, but this truly is "the iron fist in the velvet glove." It is one of those beautifully structured, silky, supple wines that is great for drinking now if you don't mind youthful flavors, but that you know has the potential to improve for 10-15 years. Deep black cherry, currant and bittersweet chocolate are the flavors and they last and last and last. Contrary to current fashion, the wine is not blended...it is 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Rating: 96/85
BEST BUY WINE OF THE WEEK
B.R. Cohn wines are available in most national markets, but production of the estate Cabernet is extremely limited. The Sonoma Chardonnay and the North Coast Cabernet are much more available. To track down nearest retail outlet contact: B.R. Cohn Winery, 15140 Sonoma Hwy., Glen Ellen, CA 95442 (707) 938-4064.
Two goofs in one column? The wine I said won "Best New World Meritage Red" honors is from Merryvale, it is from the 1993 vintage and it does sell for $48. It is not labeled "Meritage" as I said, but has the proprietary name of "Profile." (We'll blame this one on a faulty computer print-out.) It is expensive, but it's really, really special.
Wines are scored using a unique 100 point system. First number rates quality; second number rates value.