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.