Cougar's Leap Winery
2008 Black Rock Zinfandel
California: Lake County
The Man of 100 Points
Last year, we named Nils Venge our Winemaker of Year, during our annual Wine Spies Wine Intrigue Awards period. We recognized Nils for his excellence, consistency and style; his wines are also some of the most beloved among our faithful Operatives.
High in the Red Hills of Lake County Nils makes his Cougars Leap wine from his high-elevation, obsidian soil vineyards. With these wines, he strives for exceptional quality - at an exceptional price. Does that sound familiar?
Today’s 2008 Cougars Leap Zinfandel, which is planted on St. George rootstock, is a big, smoky, delicious wine that begs to be enjoyed with smoky-sweet BBQ or a pepper crusted steak.
Decant for best results and enjoy your bottles over the next several years.
Dark and foreboding with opaque dark garnet hues. Many rounds of skinny, tightly-spaced tears cling to the glass, falling in slow and successive rounds.
Understated but austere and lovely with roasted chestnut, coffee grounds, blackberry, walnut shell, dark black licorice, light mint, fresh redwood branch.
Easy entry with dark blackberry pie, black cherry, dried blackberry, soft spice and darkly toasted oak and cedar.
Long and flavor-filled leaving the mouth craving one more sip.
What the Winery Says
This is our 9th release of this Zinfandel harvested from vines planted on our estate in 1997. We have 19 acres planted on St. George rootstock with the spacing of 6’ X 8’ Upright Globe system of head training and spur pruning. The shiny, black obsidian, which is an outcropping from the volcanic red soils, is evident on a moonlit night when the cougars are on the prey.
We hand-picked 7.1 tons Average Sugar: 26 BRIX Acidity: .59 g/100ml pH: 3.6
FERMENTATION AND AGING:
This Zinfandel was fermented in 4X4 bins for 10 days, pressed using a membrane press, and stored in 59-gallon French and American Oak barrels for 18 months.
The nose on this spicy Zinfandel is of black plum and hints of toasty oak. Flavors of black currants, berry fruits, and notes of roast linger in the background. The tannins are soft and the wine is well-balance with good structure for cellaring. Juicy overall; it pairs well with curried foods, BBQ, or cream cheeses.
“Juicy and light on its feet, with cherry and tart plum fruit that shows accents of cinnamon, spice and dried sage. Tannins sneak in on the finish. Drink now through 2016.”. –TF. Rated 88 points by Tim Fish at Wine Spectator.
Appellation: Red Hills Estate, Lake County
Elevation: 2300 feet
Harvested: September 10, 2008
Cooperage: French & American Oak Barrels
Released: January 2011
Cases Produced: 350 cases
About the Winery
Nestled in the Red Hills of Lake County, California, at an elevation of 2,300 feet are Black Rock Ranch and Cougar’s Leap Winery. The ranch is named after the large deposits of shiny obsidian rock exposed throughout the volcanic soils. The winery is named for the wild cougars that roam the hills to this day ~ so follow the tracks.
The planting of the vineyard began in 1995. At that time there were only a few other growers in the Red Hills Region. The volcanic soils in this area are suitable for red varietals, so the choice was made to plant Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. Our head-pruned vines yield a hearty grape.
Winemaker Nils Venge
Born to Danish immigrants, Nils’ exposure to wine came at an early age: his parents operated a wine and liquor import and distribution company in Southern California. Nils continued his pursuit of wine at the University of California in Davis where he earned a BS in Viticulture in 1967.
Following graduation he moved to the Napa Valley to pursue his interest in winemaking. In the subsequent years, he worked for notable wineries, such as Charles Krug, Sterling, Villa Mount Eden and Groth. During his tenure at Groth, Nils became the first American winemaker to receive a perfect 100 point rating from Wine Critic Robert Parker Jr. for the 1985 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which catapulted him to a venerated position in the California wine industry.
Owner and Winemaker Nils Venge also owns Saddleback Cellars in the Napa Valley.