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How This Sonoma Winemaker Is Quietly Making Excellent Pinot Noir

How This Sonoma Winemaker Is Quietly Making Excellent Pinot Noir

This story is from an installment of The Oeno Information, our weekly insider e-newsletter to the world of superb wine. Enroll right here.

In-the-know Pinot Noir lovers with an eye fixed on Sonoma are accustomed to the likes of Williams Selyem, Hirsch Vineyards, and Flowers Winery & Vineyard, however many can be shocked to be taught that every has been made in some unspecified time in the future by the identical winemaker: Ross Cobb. It’s equally outstanding to search out out that Cobb has been quietly producing his personal wine, Cobb, since 2001. Cobb focuses on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling made with grapes from his household’s Coastlands winery within the Sonoma Coast AVA in addition to others within the space.

Three miles inland from the Pacific, Coastlands is house to a few of Sonoma County’s oldest Pinot Noir vines, which had been planted in 1989 by Cobb’s dad and mom, David and Diane. The previous sheep farm sits at 1,150 ft above sea stage and is split into 4 blocks recognized for low yields of highly effective Pinot Noir. Inside a couple of years the household was promoting grapes to high-profiled neighbors in addition to to Williams Selyem, which bottled Coastlands Pinot Noir as a single winery expression for a few years.

After learning agroecology with a specialty in soil science on the College of Santa Cruz, Cobb started work at Ferrari-Carano in 1994 and launched the primary soil lab there. 4 years later he was employed by Burt Williams and Ed Selyem and took on the roles of viticulturist and enologist at their eponymous Russian River Valley vineyard. He moved to Flowers in 2000 and commenced making Cobb together with his dad and mom in 2001, remaining at Flowers for one more eight vintages. In 2009, Cobb assumed the function of head winemaker on the newly launched Hirsch, the place he labored for six years.

In the meantime, his dad and mom had made a reputation for his or her wines within the Bay Space by focusing on the perfect San Francisco eating places listed within the Zagat information and personally making gross sales calls. With no distributor, Cobb was quickly offered in 120 space eateries, and shortly thereafter it launched its direct-to-consumer enterprise, utilizing mailers to unfold the phrase and their house fax machine to obtain orders. Whereas lovingly crafting his personal wines and people of his employers, Ross made nice connections with different winery homeowners and introduced grapes from a choose handful of cold-climate single vineyards into the Cobb portfolio.

Winemaker Ross Cobb

Cobb describes his wines as being “very true to the location and offering a way of place, just like Burgundy.” Along with that esteemed area, which he has been to 14 instances, Cobb has additionally visited winemaking areas in Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, and all corners of France. He credit this journey with serving to him in his winemaking profession, telling us, “My analysis and discoveries introduced again from these journeys allowed me to dive deep into the Coastlands soils, microclimate, and viticulture, and my winemaking in response.” He calls Pinot Noir a lens and reflection of its terroir and goals for—and achieves—“advanced, earthy, and spicy” Pinot Noirs, all of which have alcohol ranges of between 12.5 and 13.5 %.

Chilly soaks, partial entire cluster fermentation with native yeast, and 22 months in largely older French barrels with a minimal of recent oak yield a chic, restrained fashion that’s rather more consistent with examples from Burgundy than the over-extracted fashion that Sonoma will be recognized for. Cobb attributes his time at Flowers and Hirsch with the power to experiment with entire cluster ferments, completely different fermentation kinds, strategies like punch downs and pump overs, and the power to work with quite a lot of French oak sources and completely different coopers to be taught what oak was greatest fitted to his fashion of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He’s additionally grateful to the numerous German winemaking interns he has mentored through the years, who launched him to nice Riesling that he now farms and makes into three vineyard-designate bottlings.

Along with Coastlands, Cobb additionally owns two different Sonoma Coast websites, Abigail’s Winery and Doc’s Ranch, and leases and farms a number of different websites all through the AVA. As well as, it sources fruit from a couple of vineyards just a little farther north in Mendocino. The head of its portfolio is the trio of wines from its authentic website: Cobb Coastlands Winery Pinot Noir, Cobb Diane Cobb Coastlands Winery Pinot Noir, and Cobb Coastlands Winery Previous Firs Block Pinot Noir. The Diane Cobb block is called for Cobb’s mom, one of many winery and vineyard cofounders, who handed away in 2006, whereas Previous Firs takes its title from the Douglas firs on the location. Cobb says Coastland’s soils owe their origins to an historic tidal pool, and that whereas this deep, sandy, clay loam is often eroded, skinny, and rocky, right here they’re wealthy and fertile because of the elevation. There may be additionally a “marine inversion” impact, so the winery sees heat climate when it’s chilly within the valley and funky temperatures when it’s scorching inland, which aids in ripening and sustaining freshness.

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Soils, elevation, local weather, eight completely different clones of Pinot Noir, an unimaginable classic, and the winemaker’s hand mixed to create an excellent trio of releases from Cobb in 2021. There are delicate variations among the many three, however there’s a scrumptious by line of daring pink berries, touches of spice, earthiness, and florality, luxurious tannins, and vivid acidity. If you happen to had been already a fan of this below-the-radar vineyard, we apologize for giving freely your secret.

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