2007 JC Cellars Smoke and Mirrors – $15.19


My comments

I grabbed a few bottles of this wine at the local store when they had it on sale.  The blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Zinfandel sounded right up my alley and the $15 price sealed the deal.  The first few bottles were consistent, really big wines that could use a jolt of acidity to help hold them together.  This is my last bottle from the purchase and since we went out for dinner and were just looking for a bottle to relax at home, this seemed like a good one to pull, since to me, this falls into the category of a cocktail wine.


Winery history

Jeff Cohn, the winemaker, president, and “JC” of JC Cellars got his start in the industry almost 20 years ago. As an intern at Boordy Vineyards in Maryland, he drove an hour and half each way to prune vines in frigid weather, pick grapes in stifling heat, and scrub everything from barrels to floors.


Long before he began his winemaking career he received an associate degree in culinary arts from Johnson & WalesUniversity, and a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from FloridaInternationalUniversity.


Cohn had always loved the hospitality industry, and as he worked through several high profile positions after college he found his passion for wine steadily growing. The more he learned, the more he wanted to learn, until he realized that becoming a winemaker was his ultimate goal. The job at Boordy was a deciding factor in the trajectory of his career — in spite of all the scrubbing.


With the encouragement and support of his family, Cohn moved to California in 1993 to follow his dream. He earned his master’s degree in agriculture chemistry, with an emphasis on enology, from CaliforniaStateUniversity, Fresno in 1996. It was here that Cohn discovered French winemaking techniques and the concept of terroir. “The flavor profile was so different than anything else I had ever tried,” he says of the first Chateauneuf-du-Pape he tried in school. “It was a shocker. To go from tasting only single varietals to a blend really opened my eyes.”


For more info, visit http://www.jccellars.com/about-jeff-cohn.html

My Tasting Note

The wine is an inky maroon color.  The deep and dark nose has blackberries, blueberries, smoke, charcoal, baking spices, black pepper, vanilla, plums, smoked meat, and some earthiness.  This is fairly full bodied with solid tannins and decent acidity.  On the palate the tannins struggle to hold the wine together and could use a bit more acidity to be successful.  The wine gets a bit too big an unwieldy at times but is loaded with fruit and spice.  This is more of a cocktail wine than something to serve with dinner.  (86 pts)

2007 JC Cellars Smoke and Mirrors




2010 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Sexy Beast – $28.49


My comments

The Two Hands line of wines are a favorite in my house.  This will be my first Two Hands Cabernet since all past bottles have been Shiraz, Grenache, or blends.  I was able to grab a couple bottles of this at a close out sale at the local wine store.  I’m looking forward to seeing (tasting) what Michael Twelftree can do with Cabernet.


Winery history (Core Values)

Quality without compromise is central to the Two Hands philosophy, driving all the decisions from fruit and oak selection to packaging and promotion.


We strive to differentiate ourselves; to be unique, fun and innovative in our business approach while maintaining a high degree of professionalism and integrity.


Our wines are made by a process of barrel classification – selecting the very best barrels for the Flagship range followed by Garden Series then our Picture Series.  This is achieved by sourcing the best parcels of fruit available to us from six premium regions within Australia.


We handle every parcel of fruit, however small, separately from crushing through to fermentation and oak maturation to ensure complexity and personality in the finished wines.


Fruit will be the primary feature of all our wines, with oak playing a supporting role.


Much more information available at:  http://www.twohandswines.com/


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  The outstanding nose features blackberries, black plums, Asian spices, black pepper, melted licorice, eucalyptus, earthy elements, and vanilla.  This is medium to full bodied with fairly solid, ripe tannins, and very nice acidity.  On the mouth filling palate, loads of fruit and spice fill the mouth with a solid wall of unrelenting flavor right through the long, lingering finish.  This is a big, flavor filled wine that has enough tannin and acidity to deftly hold everything together.  Not a delicate and nuanced wine.  This is a love it or hate it wine, I’m on the love it side.  (92 pts)

2010 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Sexy Beast




2007 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Rattlesnake Rock – $49.00


My comments

I’ve been a big fan of BigBasin for a few years now.  I should say up front, I have only had their non Pinot Noir wines.  Their big reds are generally fairly full bodied but very balanced.  I think they are one big score from a major wine publication away from hitting the big time.


Winery history

Our mission is to create wines that reveal the complex nuances of the vineyards that inspire them – cool climate, ocean-influenced, mountain vineyards.  To this end, we spend long hours in our vineyard to insure that the grapes we grow represent the fullest expression of the vineyard and vintage.  We believe in and employ sustainable and organic farming practices.  The steep hillsides, cooling ocean breezes and fog, and mountain soils promote the development of color and complex flavors.  By keeping the yields very low and harvesting small sections of the vineyard at perfect ripeness, we strive to achieve the most important part of winemaking – great fruit.


Much more information available at:  http://bigbasinvineyards.com/


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color, almost black.  The very appealing nose has blackberries, plums, minerals, dying charcoal embers, smoked meat, black pepper, dark chocolate, vanilla, and violets.  This is full bodied with solid, ripe tannins and very good acidity.  The palate is highlighted by nice, mineral laden, spicy, fruit with a touch of earthiness.  The long finish has the fruit slowly giving way to the minerals, spice, and a touch of dark chocolate.  This will probably be better in a few years, but it is delicious today, as long as solid, ripe tannins don’t bother you.  (94 pts)

2007 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Rattlesnake Rock




*** Breaking News ***

I was honored a couple days ago by being named “The Nicest Person in Social Media”.  This was a promotion sponsored by Kingsford Charcoal.  They worked with Sysomos Monitoring to find the “nicest” person and present them with “coal” for Christmas.


Here is a shot of me getting my “coal” from Santa as well as a new grill and accessories.



The promotion includes a way to enter yourself or a friend into a drawing to also win “coal”.


The story and more information is available at:  http://www.grilling.com/benicegetcoal/




Mailing Lists


Nothing new to report in this area.  This is generally the quiet time.  Activity will pick up in early January.




Wines bought or received this week


The following winery direct wines arrived this week:

2010 Loring Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon Russell Family Vineyard

2011 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard

2010 Sandler Wine Company Grenache Chalone Boer Vineyard

2010 Sandler Wine Company Syrah Connell Vineyard

2010 Saxum James Berry Vineyard


This one was a gift from a friend:

2008 Westerhold Family Vineyards Syrah White Label (extended barrel age) Westerhold Vineyard


Purchased from a local wine store:

2006 Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra




Remember to support your local wine store!




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.