Scarecrow, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, 2015/2016 through Merchant of Wine

Scarecrow, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, 2016 | Secured for Dinner

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Overview of the Wine
Although the 2016 winter rains came late, they were almost double the volume of the previous year, resulting in robust vine growth through the spring. The vintage will be remembered for several severe heat waves: one in July which lasted for over a week, and then 3 distinct heat events in September. In July, overhead sprinklers were used at the JJ Cohn Estate to cool the vines and avoid damage. Most challenging was the extremely low relative humidity in September (<10%). Being so close to harvest, it was impossible to avoid some fruit dehydration, but with vigilance and care, the vines and fruit came through beautifully. Harvest began on September 16th and was completed on October 3rd. Yields were slightly below normal, given the challenges of the vintage, but the quality of fruit harvested was excellent.

Harvested completely by hand at night, September 16 through October 3, 2016, this wine is entirely grown on the J.J. Cohn Estate in Rutherford, Napa Valley. The fruit was destemmed, optically sorted, and fermented in small batches. After approximately 24 days on skins, the wine was gently pressed and transferred to French Oak barrels, of which roughly 80% were new. The wine was kept in these barrels for fifteen months, then assessed for quality before the final Scarecrow blend was created in Summer 2017. It was returned to rest in oak for an additional 6 months and was bottled in late July 2018 without fining or filtration. A total of 2,000 cases were produced. 

Grape / Blend
100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Origin
Rutherford, Napa Valley, California

Tasting Notes
Well before release, the 2016 vintage was quietly acquiring the respect and admiration of winemakers and reviewers alike. This vintage of Scarecrow shows very ripe dark cherry aromas, combined with cinnamon/baking spice and vanilla notes. Just a hint of earth, anise and tobacco also add complexity to the aromas. On the palate, the entry shows very juicy fresh black cherries, blackberry jam, a touch of baking spices (cardamom, clove) and warm earthy/sweet tobacco flavors. The texture is broad and round, with enough grip to stand up well to a hearty meal. As the wine opens, the solid core shows the age-worthiness of this vintage. The finish is, once again, a reminder of the fresh juicy notes promised by the aromas.

100 Points - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Scarecrow is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from two acres of old vines planted in 1945 by John Daniel and dry farmed. Very deep garnet-purple colored, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon comes sashaying out of the glass with tantalizing notions of violets, lavender, Black Forest cake, mulberries, tobacco leaf and fragrant earth with a core of warm cassis, kirsch, Chinese five spice, rose hip tea and cedar chest. The palate is full-bodied and super concentrated yet possesses great energy with vibrant red and black fruits and loads of mineral accents, framed by very ripe, super fine-grained tannins and fantastic freshness, finishing very long with the most incredible perfume. Hedonistically, undeniably and deliciously perfect. 2,000 cases are to be made, to be released in the spring of 2019.

100 Points - Jeb Dunnuck
Scheduled to be released in March of this year, the deep ruby-colored 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon would give the 2015 Château Margaux (that’s what leaped into my head as I tasted this) a run for its money and is an utterly perfect bottle of wine that does everything right. Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from very old, dry farmed vines in what was previously known as the J.J. Cohn Vineyard, its deep purple color is followed by a heavenly perfume of blueberries, spring flowers, lead pencil, exotic spices, and graphite. Slightly more focused and poised than the M. Etain release, with full body, ultra-fine tannins, and no hard edges, it’s a wine of incredible elegance paired with remarkable intensity, and it’s rare to find a wine that marries both so effortlessly. As with the vast majority of truly great Cabernet Sauvignons, it’s great today and will be great in 30 years.

98 Points - Decanter 
Scarecrow’s story is as fascinating as it is improbable. The vineyard was founded in 1945 by Joseph J. Cohn who was born in Harlem, New York, in 1895, to Russian immigrants. Cohn, penniless as a child, rose to become the head of Hollywood’s famous studio MGM. Among the classic movies Cohn produced was The Wizard of Oz. Years later Cohn’s grandson Bret Lopez named the wine Scarecrow after the movie’s beloved character. Made by Celia Welch, it’s a stunning wine with dazzling flavours that flash open like a peacock’s tail. The texture is nothing short of sublime.

98 Points - Vinous 
The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Scarecrow is another positively riveting wine from this benchmark estate and longtime winemaker Celia Welch. Powerful and explosive on the palate, with tremendous energy, the 2016 has so much to offer. A rush of graphite, smoke, leather and tobacco builds as this beautifully layered, nuanced Cabernet Sauvignon shows why Scarecrow is one of Napa Valley's very finest vineyard sites. Just bottled a few weeks before this tasting, the 2016 is shaping up to be a real jewel of a wine. Don't miss it!

94 Points - Wine Spectator 
A ripe style, with creamed plum, blackberry and dark cherry sauce flavors. A singed alder note provides frame and spine, while warm earth, tobacco and sassafras accents run through the finish. Best from 2021 through 2034.

 

About the Producer
The scarecrow story begins in a patch of earth with a fabled past. The J.J. Cohn Estate, where Scarecrow grapes are born, borders what was once the legendary vineyard of Inglenook winemaker Gustave Niebaum, whose plantings blanketed more than 1,000 acres of the Napa Valley at the close of the 19th century.

John Daniel Jr. took the helm at Inglenook in 1939, determined to restore the label to pre-Prohibition standing and produce world-class Bordeaux-style wines. In 1945, Daniel convinced his neighbor, J.J. Cohn, to plant eighty acres of Cabernet vines on the 180-acre parcel Cohn had purchased a few years prior. The property served as a summer retreat for Cohn’s wife and their family. He had no ambitions to become a winemaker himself, but Daniel promised to buy his grapes, so Cohn planted vines. The rest, as they say, is history.

J.J. Cohn fruit figured prominently in Inglenook’s superlative Cabernet Sauvignons of the post-war era, and has more recently gone into wines of such renown as Opus One, Niebaum-Coppola, Duckhorn, Insignia and Etude.

J.J. Cohn Estate grapes are highly sought-after in part because Cohn bucked the trend, begun in the mid- 1960s, of replacing vines planted on St. George rootstock with the supposedly superior AxR#I hybrid. Over time, vines grafted onto this new stock proved highly vulnerable to phylloxera. But by then, virtually all of the old St. George vines in Napa had been destroyed. Only the original 1945 J.J. Cohn vines survived. These highly prized “Old Men” continue to produce uncommonly rich fruit—the hallmark of Scarecrow wine.

But the Scarecrow story doesn’t end there. This is more than a tale of enchanted ground and the exceptional wine that flows out of it. The Scarecrow story is a story, too, of an extraordinary family legacy. Joseph Judson Cohn was born in Harlem in 1895 to Russian immigrants. Cohn spent his childhood in dire poverty and never learned to prefer the taste of fresh bread over stale—even after he’d found great success in Hollywood.

A move west in the 1920s launched Cohn’s studio career. Highly resourceful and extremely capable, Cohn began as a bookkeeper, distinguished himself early and rose quickly through the ranks to become Chief of Production at MGM. His unofficial credo, “Nothing is impossible,” became the motto of his MGM staff. They knew him as a man who simply refused to take “No” for an answer.

Product size: 750ml

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