One of our very favorite bottles of wine is B.R. Cohn’s Mendocino County Barbera. The 2010 vintage is a real show-stopper; the balance is unreal, the fruits are bold, supple, and intense, the tannins and acid present but not imposing, it sits in the mouth like velvet and goes down like Belgian chocolate, all in all making for a complex red that is easy to drink and pairs well with many food items. While not cheap at around $35-$40/bottle, it’s a go-to when we’re celebrating something or someone special. We picked it up on our last trip to California, and drank our last bottle when my (Mark here) parents were in town. Sharing one of our favorite wines made an already amazing evening just a little more memorable, if that were even possible.
Last year, my (still Mark) father gave us a bottle of wine that he really enjoyed. “For a special time,” he told us. It had a diamond-shaped label on it, which featured a small yucca plant at the top, and below that read “Marquette” (the varietal), above a hand-written “2012.” The wine was made and bottled by George Paul Vinegar in the tiny village of Cody, Nebraska, for a family in Valentine that I remember as good people from my time there, now nearly fifteen years ago. We graciously accepted the bottle, and promptly tossed it into the cellar where it sat for at least a year without being given a second thought. Then a few nights ago, we came across it, blew the dust off, and popped the cork. If we were hoping for the best, well, we got it. The wine wasn’t good “for Nebraska,” it was just plain good, and boasted the balance and other characteristics of B.R. Cohn’s Barbera. Next day, Mark made a bunch of calls, trying to locate more of it. No luck. But we have since been told that Niobrara Valley Vineyards will be opening up a tasting room this summer, and it is one we are excited to visit.
There was a time when you could not have paid either one of us to drink a wine made in Nebraska. We both had enough experience between California and Europe to think we knew it all. Turns out we were wrong. Great wine doesn’t come from specific varietals, nor does it come from certain regions or countries. Great wine comes from great grapes, grown by great people, and turned into wine by knowledgeable, dedicated vintners who invest themselves fully in the process. And while many try and fail to accomplish this, truth be told, it can be done anywhere… even in Nebraska, a place that has in recent years begun to produce some truly impressive, arguably even world-class wines.
This week, to celebrate the start of summer, Sonja and I are taking a little road trip across Nebraska, and planning to hit up some of the smaller and lesser-known tasting rooms in the less populated parts of the state. Our reviews of these wineries will appear in the coming weeks on American Winery Guide, http://www.americanwineryguide.com, and we would encourage you to check them out. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @itheewine or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/itheewine for our updates on our visits to wineries in America’s mighty Midwest. We’re excited to see what we discover out there, and we’ll be pleased to share what we learn with you.