The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2013

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WINE BRIEFS WE'D SWIM UPSTREAM FOR COHO WINES Drinking Re-spawn-sibly by Meridith May PHOTO: ROCCO CESELIN S ometimes it takes a marketing visionary to start the spin cycle for a wine that is truly noteworthy. Such is the case with Gary Lipp, who in 2002 partnered with Brooks Painter, a former winemaker at Robert Mondavi, to produce the type of wine that has a real raison d'être. Lipp had worked for some top names in the industry—Paul Hobbs, Chalone Wine Group, Heitz and Robert Mondavi Winery—before he decided to start his own label. "Brooks came to me knowing there were some stellar vineyards out there," Lipp tells THE TASTING PANEL. "He assured me that we did not have to own the property to make great wine. We just needed a top notch supply—and know how to sell it." And why the name COHO? An Irish myth refers to the Salmon of Knowledge, a ish empowered with all there is to know in the universe. A Celtic poet, Finn Eces, spent seven years trying to catch the Brooks Painter and Gary Lipp of Coho ish. One day he inally Wines at Michael Black Vineyards in caught the salmon and Napa Valley. gave it to his servant, with instructions not to eat it. The boy cooked the salmon and, after touching the hot ish while it was cooking, licked his thumb to ease the pain. Little did he know that all of the salmon's wisdom had been concentrated into that one drop of fat . . . including the "magical" gift of poetry. "That is the inspiration for COHO—the concept for our wine is bottled poetry," explains Lipp, referring to the phrase of Robert Louis Stevenson that is posted on the sign welcoming visitors to Napa Valley. The wine's sustainability statement reads "Healthy vineyards maintain natural balance," and a portion of proceeds from the sale of COHO goes toward related causes, including SPAWN, the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, which helps protect the endangered Coho salmon in Northern California. 60 / the tasting panel / may 2013 COHO: The Wines COHO 2010 Pinot Noir Stanly Ranch, Los , Carneros ($45) offers a deep, alluring nose with bold up-front fruit. A devil's food cake–and-cherry soil follows the acidity that greets the palate with a bouquet of violets. In 1942, Louis M. Martini bought 200 acres of the Stanly Ranch and with Harold Olmo did extensive experiments with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, leading to UCD Clone 108 Chardonnay and UCD Clones 12 and 15 Pinot Noir. 92 COHO 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Summit Vine Ranch, Diamond Mountain District, Napa Valley ($55) blends in 14% Merlot, 5% Cab Franc and 1% Petit Verdot for a mineral-rich, spiced and perfumed red that glows from within (maybe that red volcanic soil?). It runs a blackberry to red berry spectrum, with a strawberry surprise mid-point. Dark chocolate–cherries lean in within a tightly wound merry-go-round of fruit. Grown at an elevation of almost 1,800 feet, overlooking Knights and Alexander Valleys. 94 COHO 2010 Merlot, Michael Black Vineyard, Napa Valley ($55) may be the best Merlot we have tasted all year. Exclusive to COHO Wines, this property was developed by Black, a highly regarded viticulturist. The vines produce small berries and small clusters, and the wine, aged 22 months in French oak is eloquently expressive, with a huge mouthfeel and opulent, earthy layers of fruit, soil and ripeness. Black strap molasses and black cherries (including the slightly bitter pit proile) follow through to the inish. 97

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