A Dog (and a Wine) Named Moose

I’ve seen B.R. Cohn wines at stores and at several wine tastings. I’ve driven by the Sonoma Valley winery a couple of times. But it wasn’t until my most recent trip to Sonoma when I decided to try the wine – and I realized I should have tried it sooner

B.R. Cohn is located off Sonoma Highway in Glen Ellen, on a beautiful tree-covered stretch of road that winds around fields of grapevines stretching out as far as the eye can see. Around every curve is another winery. It’s the perfect place to spend the afternoon driving around, seeing which wineries tempt you to stop in.

After driving up the long driveway, we parked in front of the tasting room. When we walked in we heard Abbey Road playing. I’m a huge Beatles fan, so I took this as a good sign. A friendly man with grey hair welcomed us over to the tasting bar and started telling us about the history of B.R. Cohn. The winery’s founder and proprietor is Bruce Cohn, who is the manager of the Doobie Brothers. He bought the property in the mid 1970s, and began making his own wine there about 10 years later. Also on the property is a grove of 140-year-old French Picholine olive trees, the inspiration for B.R. Cohn’s distinctive labels. B.R. Cohn also produces a variety of olive oils and vinegars which I’ve seen sold at specialty food stores and Whole Foods.

We decided to stick to reds for our tasting and were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed them. One favorite was the 2005 Sonoma Valley Zinfandel. The color is deep red, almost purple. The smell is of raspberries and very ripe blackberries. In the taste those berries come through, with hints of cherries and strawberries. It has a smooth finish with very soft tannins. We purchased 3 bottles for $26 each.

Our other favorite was the 2005 Moose’s Red. It’s a blend of grapes from B.R. Cohn’s vineyard and other North Coast vineyards. The wine is named after Bruce’s dog, who’s featured on the label. A portion of the wine’s profits are donated to a local animal shelter. On the back label the wine is described as having “the potential of becoming your best friend.” It’s easy to see why – it’s full bodied with the taste of blackberries, cassis, cherries and a hint of vanilla. We purchased 3 bottles for $40 each.

Moose’s Red inspired me to think of what I would name my own wine. Here’s what it would be:

Porter, my cat, is the most adorable cat ever. Just click on the bottle to see an enlarged picture of him. I can also send you hundreds of other pictures if you need more proof. Porter is very talented, he can jump high into the air to catch his favorite stuffed mouse. If I were to make a wine named Porter it would be big and full bodied (he’s big and full bodied), with rich fruit flavors that come out after a few minutes (he can be a little shy and timid at the beginning).

From the tasting room we moved to a small building next door to taste some of B.R. Cohn’s olive oils and vinegar. My favorite olive oil was the Olive Hill Estate Picholine extra virgin olive oil. It was light and clean with a delicate flavor of olives. It was $39. Other olive oils are around $10. We tried a balsamic vinegar that was aged 25 years. It was delicious – full of flavor and thicker than regular balsamic vinegar. The man who had been guiding us through the olive oil and vinegar tasting said this was great on ice cream. I think I’ll stick to hot fudge on my sundaes, but I had no doubt the balsamic vinegar would be great on sliced heirloom tomatoes. This vinegar cost $25, others ranged from $10 to $20.

If you like your wine, olive oil or vinegar with a side of rock and roll, B.R. Cohen hosts a charity concert each fall. This year’s event is on the weekend of October 4th, and features some famous groups and of course, the Doobie Brothers.

For more information on B.R. Cohn, check out their website.