Elin’s Wine Pick: Elegant New-Style California Pinot
Be warned: this week’s delicious, graceful red isn’t an under-$20 wonder. But the vivid, spicy, complex 2009 Cobb Pinot Noir from the Emmaline Ann Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast is worth its price. Aromas of flowers, damp earth, and spices along with delicate yet deep berry fruit and mineral flavors mark this wine as one that will get even better with age.
Elin McCoy's Wine of the Week
Region: Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir
Serve with: grilled salmon or tuna steaks laced with Pinot Noir sauce, mushroom ragout
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Winemaker Ross Cobb is one of California’s current Pinot Noir wizards. His family’s Cobb Wines, founded in 2001 by Ross and his grape-growing father David, are noted for their single-vineyard Pinots from the far Sonoma Coast.
The winery story began with the Coastlands Vineyard, planted in 1989 by David, a marine ecologist who’d first made wine with Austrian grape juice while working in Saudi Arabia. He’d hunted down the cool-climate location on a high ridge near the Pacific Ocean with the intention of selling his Pinot grapes to small vintners who wanted to make Pinot in a more delicate style. Back then, with only one other vineyard planted in the area, he was a pioneer.
A son’s choice: Pinot Noir
Ross, who did stints at several Sonoma wineries and also makes the wines at Hirsch Vineyards, eventually persuaded his father to start making Pinots under the Cobb label in 2001.
They now source grapes from several vineyards besides Coastlands, including Emmaline Ann. It’s a tiny 3-acre plot of vines at an elevation of 800 feet near the town of Occidental.
Cobb says the vineyard gets more shade and fog than their other vineyards. The result is a wine with delicacy, modest alcohol levels and bright, mouthwatering acidity. Cobb ages only 30% in new French oak.
Only 260 cases of this wine were produced, so it’s not that easy to find. But it — and all of Cobb’s Pinots — are well worth tracking down. If you can’t track them down, head to the third annual West of West wine festival on Aug. 2-4 in Sebastopol, Calif. Along with 39 other vintners, Ross Cobb will be pouring. That’s reason enough to go.