The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2015

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22  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2015 WINEMAKERS W hen asked how many wineries he consults with around the world, legendary California winemaker Paul Hobbs paused and counted silently to himself. "I have a few more than 30," Hobbs finally announced, though without much certainty. "Honestly, it's a lot of work, and I am cutting back some. That part of my life is fascinating, if time-consuming." His resumé can be deceptive, Hobbs warned. "A big chunk of the consulting that we do is handled here in California, and that's pretty much run by someone else from day to day. But all the international consulting I do myself." Though he remains busy with his partnerships in Argentina and France, the center of Hobbs's universe remains Sonoma's Russian River Valley, where he's been making wines under his eponymous label since 1991 and where his winery opened in 2003. (His second California label, CrossBarn, began with the 2000 vintage.) Hobbs' wines, fermented with native yeast and bottled unfined and unfiltered, have consistently ranked among America's best. Robert Parker gave his 2002 Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 100 points, calling it "one of the greatest young Cabernet Sauvignons I have ever tasted." Hobbs prefers contracting with vineyards to owning his own, but a look at the list of seven Sonoma and six Napa vineyards on his winery's website reveals some enviable names: Beckstoffer, Coombs, Stagecoach, Hyde. "The key to a good contract is the understanding between the partners—the grower and the winemaker," Hobbs said. "I like to be very actively involved with what's going on in the field, and I'm very meticulous about the work that's being done. Not many growers are really okay with that." Hobbs prefers area contracts. "That means you're paying for acreage, not weight, in tons [of harvestable fruit]. I probably pay some of the highest prices for contracted grapes in all of the U.S. That's what you have to do in order to get what you need." THE LEGENDARY CALIFORNIA WINEMAKER TALKS ABOUT HIS CURRENT PROJECTS by Paul Hodgins Paul Hobbs 2013 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley ($50) served with grilled California preaches and greens. Vibrant, excellent structure, with aromas of stone fruit and apple and a mineral finish. Paul Hobbs 2013 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ($55) served with prime beef tartare. Dark cherry, blackberry and cola with light tannins on the finish. Paul Hobbs 2013 Pinot Noir, Ulises Valdez Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($75) served with blackened crispy skin red snapper. Strong backbone, floral nose, silky texture with a hint of tea and Eastern spices. Paul Hobbs 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($100) served with slow- roasted pork shoulder. Chocolate, graphite, cassis, currant, and medium tannins. Bramare 2012 Malbec, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendocino, Argentina ($45) served with local red plum and Bing cherry pot pie. From Hobbs's Viña Cobos in Argentina. Hints of berries, chocolate, walnuts; deep and nuanced, with firm tannins. How Busy Is Paul Hobbs? Here is how Hobbs paired his wines with the cuisine at a dinner he hosted at Watertable at the Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach, CA. Tasting Notes PHOTO COURTESY OF PAUL HOBBS WINES

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