Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tasting: Survey of JC Cellars Reds!

My turn to host our Pompous Twits winetasting group, on May 2nd.

Last year and the year before I offered a roundup of Rosenblum wines. Though many of our members go to Rosenblum's quarterly open-house tastings, it's easy to overlook the many wines the Big R makes besides the big Zins that have made it famous (and my favorite winery). Those tastings were, as you can imagine, big hits with our group.

This year I decided to offer a variant: wines from the spinoff winery of Rosenblum's chief winemaker, Jeff Cohen. So we'll be tackling a selection of JC Cellars reds this year.

Jeff started out with Syrahs, staying away from his famed Zins, presumably so as not to be seen as competing with his original employer. JC Cellars now makes a few Zins (Iron Hill VIneyard, Arrowhead Mountain, and The Imposter, a Zin-based blend), but its core offerings are still Syrahs -- plus a growing collection of Rhone-style whites.

But we're skipping the whites in this tasting: We're a red-drinking crowd, and anyway JC Cellars has too many reds for us to handle in one tasting without adding whites too. So it's JC Cellars Syrahs--plus a couple.

The first Plus is the newly released 08 Rockpile Vineyard Rose of Syrah -- at only $14, their most affordable bottle, and very, very nice when I tasted a splash at their 4th Street facility in Oakland near Jack London Square recently. That will be our starter.

The main course:

2. 2005 Frediani Vineyard Petite Syrah - $45
3. 2005 Caldwell Vineyards Syrah - $31.50
4. 2005 A La Cave Syrah - $28
5. 2005 Arrowhead Mountain Vineyard Zinfandel - $35
6. 2006 Fess Parker's Vineyard Syrah - $30
7. 2006 California Cuvée Syrah - $25
8. 2006 Broken Compass - 97% Syrah, 3% Petitie Syrah – 460 cases - $40
9. 2007 The Imposter $32 a Zin-Syrah blend
10. 2005 Snow's Lake Zin (Rosenblum) - $35

(The Snow's Lake ringer I'm bringing because last year I realized Snow's Lake is so good that it's neck and neck with Rosenblum's Rockpile Road Zin, which in my opinion is the best Zinfandel God makes. And they did tie, in the opinion of the Twits. But Tom said he thought the Snow's Lake had another year of aging in it, so I promised to bring a bottle along this year to test his hypothesis.)

Mary and John Warner have also pledged to bring a bottle of JC Cellars from their own cellar, so that will make 11 wines for the 18 of us -- so we should be able to BART home without great trouble, I hope.

We'll let you know which JC we liked best - unless it's a 10-way tie!

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