Wine Time: B.R. Cohn Silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast

COST: $19-21


WHAT: I hadn’t had many B.R. Cohn wines, but I had heard a lot about them, so I decided to try the Silver Label, their entry-level Cabernet Sauvignon. It turned out to be a great choice.

This is a beautiful, soft wine, blending rich, full flavors of blackberry, fig, plum and black cherry. The wine is nicely layered, with each sip revealing a new flavor. The finish is long and round, with lots of lingering fruit flavors.

The grapes come from North Coast vineyards in California. Some of the mellowness comes from the blend, which is 76.6 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.9 percent Merlot and 9.5 percent Cabernet Franc. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 18 months before it is bottled.

The Silver Label Cab often ranks high in competitions every year, especially as a great value Cab. I would chill this wine slightly (10-15 minutes in the refrigerator) unless you are pulling it out of a cool cellar.

WINERY: The owner of the winery is nearly as famous as his wonderful wine. Bruce Cohn has also served as the manager, since 1970, of the musical group the Doobie Brothers. The beautiful winery even features a room of Doobie memorabilia.

Cohn bought his vineyard in Glen Ellen in the heart of Sonoma Valley in 1974. He named it Olive Hill Vineyards after the 140-year-old Picholine olive trees that had been brought from France in the mid-1800s and planted on the property. A distinctive drawing of an olive branch appears on the winery’s label.

He began selling his Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to some famous winemakers in the area, who encouraged him to ask for vineyard designation from other wineries that bought his grapes. The Olive Hill vineyard was ideal for Cabernet grapes because of underground hot springs and cool ocean breezes that make for a long growing season.

The 1980 Gundlach-Bundschu Olive Hill Cabernet was chosen by the White House as a gift to China, because it represented an outstanding example of California wine.

The B.R. Cohn winery and label was founded in 1984. The winemaking team included Helen Turley, who went on to have a distinguished career as a winemaker of blockbuster wines. The first four vintages of B.R. Cohn grabbed the attention of critics and the wine world in general.

Tom Montgomery is the current winemaker.

The winery hosts musical concerts and special events throughout the year, donating most of the proceeds to charity. The Doobie Brothers usually perform at the winery each year.

The estate includes 90 acres, 61 planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. B.R. Cohn also produces a Chardonnay from the Carneros region.

The winery produces 75,000 cases a year, as well as olives, olive oil, vinegar, and gourmet foods.

GOES WITH: Teri and I tried this with Chinese chicken noodle soup that I made trying to duplicate a soup we had on a recent trip. You might think a Cab wouldn’t go well with chicken soup, but this was delicious.

We needed something to stand up to the sharp flavors of ginger and cilantro in the soup. The mellow fruit in the wine smoothed out the soup flavors.

It also would go well with red meat on the grill, beef stew, and mild tomato sauce on pasta.


AUG. 16

Wine and tapas tasting, 5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $19.99; (706) 722-4805

Wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three white wines and three reds and matching cheeses; $5 with $3 rebate on purchase of one of the featured wines; (803) 279-9522

AUG. 17-18

Wine and beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Aug. 17 and 2-6:30 p.m. Aug. 18, Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

AUG. 22

Wine dinner, 6:30-9 p.m., Calvert’s 475 Highland Ave.; wines of Hearst Ranch; reservations, (706) 724-1442

AUG. 24

Beer tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Avenue, North Augusta; $5 with $2 rebate on purchase of six bottles selected from 10 featured beers; (803) 279-9522

AUG. 25

Wine and beer tasting, 2-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; $10; (706) 922-9463; money raised will go to special events for Air Force members stationed at Fort Gordon

OCT. 4

Wine tasting, 7 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Rd., Evans, price TBA, featuring wines from Argentina and Chile. For reservations call 706-922-9464.

OCT. 13

7th annual CoCo Culinary and Wine Festival, 1-4 p.m., Savannah Rapids Pavillion, Columbia County; more than 100 wines, a tasting glass to keep, food prepared by local chefs and music; $35; (706) 829-1343