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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 the mid-1960s, of replacing vines planted on St. George rootstock with the supposedly su y 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.
The 2007 growing season in Napa Valley was in many ways a vintner’s dream. Although lack of rain early in the season was a source of initial concern for growers, mild summer temperatures made the dry conditions a boon for the vines.
The best vintages are those resulting from long, moderate, crisis-free growing seasons.
Unperturbed by extremes, the fruit for the 2007 Scarecrow took little coaxing to express the full flavor and character of the vineyard, producing a beautifully balanced wine with minimal intervention—one that easily and authentically captures what sets the J.J. Cohn Estate apart.
This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested from eight separate vineyard blocks on the
Rutherford estate between September 7 and October 4, 2007. Fruit from the oldest vines— the Esteemed Old Men—was fermented in an open-top tank and punched down three times each day, while other lots were fermented using pumpovers and cap irrigations three times
daily. The wines spent a year aging separately in small, 100% new French oak barrels.
In summer 2008 the separate lots were combined and the final blend returned to barrels to age an additional eleven months. The finished wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered in July 2009.
t a s t i n g n o t e s
Winemaker Celia Welch writes of the 2007 Scarecrow:
“The aromas on this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon are exactly true to Rutherford Cabernet;
warm briary berries, dark juicy bing cherries, a touch of sweet black tea, a hint of woodsy oak leaf, the faintest whiff of cigar smoke, all revolving and recombining as the aromas evolve with time in the wineglass.
On the palate, the flavors reflect what the aromas had promised, but with added textural elements of softly folded satin, bright fresh berry juice viscosity, and the vibrant, lively fruit flavors integrated into the vanilla/oak tones. The finishing impression is of cherries and dark raspberries complexed with warm spice and sweet earth notes.”