The 2009 JC Cellars Landy Sweetwater Springs Vineyard Zinfandel is my Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for August 19th-August 25th.

The Winery

JC Cellars is an award-winning urban winery located in Oakland, CA.  Jeff Cohn is the winemaker and president. His wife Alexandra Cohn is the CFO. The winery was founded in 1997.  Earlier this month, JC Cellars announced it is restructuring its brand under the Jeff Cohn Wine label. That brand will feature the Syrah-based “Smoke and Mirrors” wine.  The JC Cellars brand will continue its focus on vineyard designate Rhone and Zinfandel wines.  Annual production is about 5000 cases.

I think it’s fair to say Jeff likes to “tinker”, or as the JC Cellars website put it… Jeff fuses his passion for classic French winemaking with New World innovation”He released his first Pinot Noir this summer, and sells a Viognier that is a collaboration with a French winery –  Domaine François Villard of Condrieu.  As if his gig at JC Cellars/Jeff Cohn Wines weren’t enough, Jeff is also a consulting winemaker.

The Wine

The fruit for 2009 JC Cellars Landy Sweetwater Springs Vineyard Zinfandel was sourced from the Landy Sweetwater Springs Vineyard in Russian River Valley. The vineyard was planted to 23 acres in 2002.  Grapes planted  include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.  You don’t think of Zinfandel and Pinot Noir, which like two different types of climates as co-existing, but it works at Landy because the vineyards are at various elevations from 300 to about 1000 feet.  That means the fruit at the lower elevations is  exposed to the cooling influence of the fog, while the hillside fruit gets more than its fair share of sun exposure.  The diversity in elevation and soils enables cooler climate varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to co-exist in the same vineyard with Zinfandel which prefers a warmer climate.  I suspect this wine produced from hillside fruit because of its intensity.

Did I mention that Jeff likes to tinker? Here’s what he say about producing this wine:

…I decided to do a little experimentation and went old world with this one. By that I mean I decided to ferment and age 60% of it in a cement tank, not the ‘egg’, but a hippo shape. We noticed that during the fermentation process the wine not only fermented a little hotter and held its heat better, but also provided for better extraction of color and flavors; plus its a touch softer in style. After aging the wine for 11 months it was blended with wine that had been fermented in stainless open top tanks and also with wine fermented in 1⁄2 ton bins. This blend was then aged in 25% new 350 to 500 liter French oak barrels.”

2009 JC Cellars Landy Sweetwater Springs Vineyard Zinfandel

My tasting notes follow…

Inky violet color with cassis, raspberry, cacao and a hint of leather aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied,extracted, and silky smooth with well-behaved tannins and ripe blackberry, raspberry, cassis, cacao and vanilla flavors. Medium-long finish. – Highly Recommend

It’s quite approachable now, but will age nicely for 7-10 years.  Pair with aged Cheddar, Smoked Gouda, Smoked Ahi Tuna, Ginger Soy Short Ribs, or meat topped Pizza!

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