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Last hours to vote for the Best of Sonoma County finalists! Don't miss out!

Wine of the Week: JC Cellars, 2011 El Diablo Vineyard

Jeff Cohn is not a mad scientist, but he is compelled to experiment.

“To achieve greatness you need to experiment,” he said. “I taste many other winemakers' wines and constantly ask myself how they achieved this final wine. I also taste our wines in barrels with hopes that they are taking form in the direction I am looking for.”

Cohn, of JC Cellars in Oakland, is the winemaker/vintner behind our wine-of-the-week winner — JC Cellars, 2011 El Diablo Vineyard, the Fallen Angel, Russian River Valley Grenache at $45.

This is a gorgeous grenache with a great concentration of fruit — black cherry, cherry and cranberry. There's also a meatiness in the mix, along with roasted herb and spice. It's bright and bold, a knockout.

“My first exposure to grenache was during a wine class I took while attending Florida International University in Miami in 1982,” Cohn said. “We did a class on blend wines, and Chateauneuf du Pape was one of the wines we tried.

“Although this wine was a blend, grenache was the largest proportion of the blend. I guess it set the ball in motion, although it would be many years later until I produced one.”

The challenge in making a great grenache is getting aromas, flavors and textures in sync, he said. The goal for the Fallen Angel was finding a vineyard that was in a cooler climate (Russian River) but also in a warm section, since grenache likes heat.

“I love grenache by itself or as the lead in a blend,” Cohn said. “I find these wines to be the most intoxicating and seductive, and they open my mind to the possibilities of aromas and flavors that showcase terroir in its strongest sense.”

TOP PICK

JC Cellars, 2011 El Diablo Vineyard, The Fallen Angel, Russian River Valley Grenache, 15 percent alcohol, $45, 4 stars.

A gorgeous grenache with a great concentration of fruit — black cherry, cherry and cranberry. There's also a meatiness in the mix, along with roasted herb and spice. It is bright and bold. Knockout.

Other impressive wines:

Carica Wines, 2010 Kick Ranch Sonoma County Syrah, 14.4 percent, $36, 4 stars.

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