In 1885, Dr. George Beldon Crane planted an assortment of grape vines on an eight-acre plot of land, just south of St. Helena. Today, it is one of the oldest vineyards in the Napa Valley, consisting of a field blend traditionally known as "mixed blacks". Although records are scarce, the vines likely consist of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignan and to a lesser extent, Alicante Bouschet, Mourvedre and Valdiguie. Of the eight acres currently in production, approximately four contain a mixture of G.B. Crane's original head trained vines with newer plantings from the 1930s interspersed. The other four acres consist of a 1.6-acre block of Cabernet Sauvignon, a 1.4-acre block of Petite Sirah, and two rows of Merlot. With such a storied history and enormous potential, GB Crane purchased the eight-acre vineyard in 2012 with one goal: to preserve this piece of California viticultural history and produce a wine that both represents and respects that heritage.
The El Coco blend changes every year, and this time it's a blend of 56% Petite Sirah, 35% Zinfandel, and 9% Merlot. The 2018 El Coco pours vivid violet and sits with a dark crimson core and a Black Baccara Rose rim. Awash with complex and changing aromas, the nose starts with ripe blue fruits and brambly framboise, then opens up to some crème de menthe and cigar box. Seamless yet broad on entry, the palate is rife with blueberry, black cherry and a hint of white pepper. Plush, effortlessly balanced and with round, soft tannins, the finish is the epitome of length; it builds and eventually blooms to a satiating note of dark pluot.