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Scarecrow M. Etain Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
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 in the mid-1960s, of replacing vines planted on St. George rootstock with the supposedly 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.
But the Scarecrow story doesn’t end there. This is more than a tale of enchanted ground and the exceptional wine that flows out of it. The Scarecrow story is a story, too, of an extraordinary family legacy. Joseph Judson Cohn was born in Harlem in 1895 to Russian immigrants. Cohn spent his childhood in dire poverty and never learned to prefer the taste of fresh bread over stale—even after he’d found great success in Hollywood.
A move west in the 1920s launched Cohn’s studio career. Highly resourceful and extremely capable, Cohn began as a bookkeeper, distinguished himself early and rose quickly through the ranks to become Chief of Production at MGM. His unofficial credo, "Nothing is impossible," became the motto of his MGM staff. They knew him as a man who simply refused to take "No" for an answer.
The Rutherford sub-region of Napa Valley centers on the town of Rutherford and covers some of Napa Valley’s finest vineyard real estate, spanning from the Mayacamas in the west, to the Vaca Mountains on the other side of the valley.
Inside of the Rutherford AVA, bordering the Mayacamas, is a stretch of uplands called the Rutherford Bench. (These bench lands technically run the length of Oakville as well). Mountain runoff creates deep, well-drained, alluvial soils on the bench, giving vine roots plenty of reason to permeate deep into the ground. The result is wine with great structure and complexity.
Rutherford Cabernet Sauvingons and Bordeaux Blends are recognized widely for their enticing fragrances of dusty earth and dried herbs, broad and juicy mid-palates and lush and fine-grained tannins. The sub-appellation claims some of the valley’s most prized vineyards today, namely Caymus, Rubicon and Beckstoffer Georges III.
It is also home to Napa’s most influential and historic personalities. Thomas Rutherford, responsible for the appellation's name, made serious investments here in grape growing and wine production between the years of 1850 to 1880. Gustave Niebaum purchased a large swath of land and completed his winery in 1887, calling it “Inglenook.” Today this remains the oldest bonded winery in California. Georges Latour founded Beaulieu Vineyard in 1900, making it the oldest continuous winery in the state. Latour also hired the famous enologist, André Tchelistcheff, a man credited for single-handedly defining the modern Napa winemaking style.
A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon is now the world's most planted grape variety. Inherently high in tannins and acidity, the best bottlings of Cabernet can age beautifully, with the ability to last fifty years or more. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in temperate climates like Bordeaux's Medoc region and forms the base of the Medoc reds, which are typically mostly Cabernet with Merlot and smaller amounts of some combination of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. (Enjoying a great deal of success in various regions around the world, this blend is now globally referred to as a Bordeaux Blend.) Cabernet Sauvignon has enjoyed great success throughout the world, particularly in the Napa Valley, and is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and sought-after “cult” wines.
In the Glass
High in color, tannin and extract, Cabernet Sauvignon expresses notes of blackberry, cassis, plum, currant, spice and tobacco. In Bordeaux and elsewhere in the Old World you'll find the more earthy, tannic side of Cabernet, where it is typically blended to soften tannins and add complexity. In warmer regions like California Washington, Argentina, Chile and Australia, you can typically expect more ripe fruit flavors upfront.
Cabernet Sauvignon is right at home with rich, intense meat dishes—beef, lamb and venison, in particular—where its opulent fruit and decisive tannins make an equal match to the dense protein of the meat. With a mature Cabernet, opt for tender, slow-cooked meat dishes.
Despite the modern importance and ubiquity of Cabernet Sauvignon, it is actually a relatively young variety. In 1997, DNA profiling revealed the grape to be a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which took place in 17th century southwestern France.