Thursday, April 28, 2011

Paul Hobbs/Crossbarn

Members of Off The Vine's Collector's Club got a special treat on Wednesday, April 27 when Stephanie Harris of Paul Hobbs Winery guided us through a selection of their wines as well as a couple from Hobbs' CrossBarn label. After a brief history of the winery and Paul's amazing pedigree (winemaking duties at Opus One, Simi, Catena, Peter Michael and Lewis - to name a few) we dove right into the wines.

The first wine we tasted was the 2009 CrossBarn Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast. The nose on this wine is rich and full with notes of butter, ripe pear and toasted hazlenut. Clean and bright on the palate with apple and citrus flavors. The palate is quite rich, yet it also shows remarkable balance with nice minerality and refreshing acidity. A bit of SO2 lingers on the finish. 15% of this wine is barrel-fermented, mostly in seasoned oak, and 100% goes through malolactic fermentation. $28.99

Next up was the 2008 Paul Hobbs Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. This beautiful, 100% barrel-fermented (45% new French oak) Chardonnay is a blend of fruit from six vineyards within the fabled Russian River Valley with the majority of the grapes coming from the Hyde, Valdez and Ritchie Vineyards. Decadent butter, brioche and orange-citrus notes tantalize the nose and palate. Full-bodied and rich with a good dose of alcohol, the finish is once again lifted by mineral notes.

My favorite wine of the evening had to be the 2008 CrossBarn Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. Beautiful ruby red color with intense cherry and raspberry fruit on the nose and palate. Although quite fruit-driven, complexity is added by a touch of earthy/mushroomy flavor. Aged in just 20% new French oak, the wood never detracts from the glorious fruit. Finishes a touch stemmy with more raspberry. $40

The two Cabernet Sauvignons were a study in contrasting winemaking styles. Although you could age the 2008 CrossBarn Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley for a few years, it is vinted with the intention of enjoying in the near-term. Blackberry, black cherry, bell pepper and wintergreen notes are to be found in this classic, cool climate Napa Cabernet. Dense texture with solid tannins. Aged in 22% new French oak and an unspecified amount of American oak, this wine is primarily composed of fruit from the State Lane Vineyard.

The 2006 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley practically demands to be cellared for a decade or longer. This super rich wine is a blend of vineyards that any California Cabernet fan will recognize. Names such as: Hyde, Stagecoach, Beckstoffer To Kalon and Beckstoffer Dr. Crane. Crazy raspberry and blueberry fruit initially jump out of the glass. But with time, more subtle notes of cocoa, pencil lead and pepper just begin to evolve. The acid and tannins are harmoniously balanced and everything is in place for a wine which is sure to reward patient cellaring. $81

A bottle of 2008 Vina Cobos Felino Malbec, Mendoza was then opened to give the tasters a bit of an insight as to what Paul Hobbs does with his Argentinian property. I was initially excited by the notes of black pepper, wintergreen and tar on te nose, but the palate seemed quite unripe and acidic; offering only meager tart cherry flavors. After having tasted the lush Paul Hobbs wines and many examples of his Pulenta wines (also from Argentina), I have to think this one was an aberration. $20

The last bottle I sampled was the 2006 Vineyard 7 & 8 Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. Disclaimer: I have never been a fan of this particular sub-appellation of Napa Valley. I've consistently found the wines from this part of Napa to be overly green and vegetal with many winemakers favoring brutal tannins to polished, balanced wines. This particular wine fared little better with its near-black color, herbal, green tobacco and stewed fruit flavors and monster tannins. This, and other wines from Spring Mountain indeed show terroir or a true sense of place. But unfortunately, it is not a flavor profile that I care for.

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