First, a little history lesson is in order. It all began when the late Kent Rosenblum discovered the original, minuscule, less than an acre, St. Peter’s Church vineyard of very old vine Zinfandel and Carignan planted behind the children’s playground on the rear property of the old ivy covered Catholic church in Cloverdale off Highway 101. Honestly, it was next to impossible to secure a bottle unless you were one of the fortunate upper tier club members of Rosenblum Cellars. TWC was incredibly lucky to secure some cases during the 1990s and early 2000s. But I had connections, and I remember my Mom receiving an autographed magnum from Kent Rosenblum for her 80th birthday back in 2005.
Ulises Valdez is an incredible rags to riches story after he escaped the Tijuana flea markets in his youth to flee north to the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma to labor in the vineyards and become one of the most famous and successful vineyard managers in California. Valdez’s claim to fame was propagating the “St. Peter’s Church” Zinfandel clone which is now recognized along with his other famous Zinfandel clone “Rockpile”, as the two finest Zinfandel clones to be planted in Sonoma. In fact, Rockpile has its own AVA, and was made most famous when Kent Rosenblum’s 2003 Rockpile Zinfandel was awarded 94 points by Wine Spectator and named the #3/Top 100 Wines of the Year in 2005.
Jeff Cohn has been working with St. Peter’s Church Vineyard since 1996, first as assistant winemaker with Rosenblum Cellars, then with the Valdez family, and ultimately with Jeff Cohn Cellars. The vines were originally planted in the 1880’s with Zinfandel and mixed blacks that circled the vineyard with the thought that if the vineyard became vulnerable to a threat, it would affect the outside circle before it reached the Zinfandel. Farmed by friend Ulises Valdez, and planted with a selection known as St. Peter’s Church selection, this is a very special vineyard for Jeff. He says that everywhere this selection is planted is “magic.” At 500ft. elevation with alluvial-loamy and clay soils this Zinfandel is unique. The loam adds life to the wine, while the clay adds richness and mouthfeel.
100% Zinfandel – Aged 16 mos. in 30% New French oak, 228L and 350L barrels.
“Potent but polished, with distinctive blackberry, licorice, espresso and smoked pepper flavors that take on richness toward well-groomed tannins. Drink now through 2026” 94 points, Wine Spectator —T.F
Just a couple of hundred cases produced. Jeff Cohn definitely has the Midas touch as this Zinfandel’s hefty 15.5% alcohol is never a problem …. and I am just finishing the final 3 ounces of an open bottle left over from Saturday’s Tasting Bar (today is Tuesday, March 19th). Extremely well defined, the intense, rich briary black fruits are still fresh, supple and generous, all while showing restraint, and an elegant, integrated, finely knit tannins. In time for the bbq season or keep in the cellar!