Cobb 2008 Rice-Spivak & 2006 Emmaline Vineyard Pinot Noirs


Cobb Pinot Noir Rice-Spivak Vineyard 2008

The Vineyard

This 6-acre vineyard is owned by Russell Rice and his wife, Dr. Helene Spivak. It is a few miles further inland than Cobb Wines’ other vineyards, but still influenced by the Pacific Ocean to the west. The soil is the Goldridge sandy loam found around much of this part of Sebastopol, California. However, extensive volcanic activity in the region’s past has laced the soil with an unusual amount of ash. This unique soil composition, together with a northern exposure, and the distinct varieties of Dijon and Swan pinot noir planted here, produce a characteristically aromatic, complex wine. Rice-Spivak is farmed by Cobb Wines’ longtime vineyard crew, and is the source for the Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir. These distinctive clones are planted in an unusual mix of sandy loam and volcanic ash. 450 cases made.

Tasting Notes

Winemaker’s notes: Aromas and flavors of high-toned fruit including raspberries, Bing and Rainer cherry, stone fruits, bergamot, orange melon; minerals and earth. Crisp, yet creamy mouth-feel; bright acidity on palate.

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Josh Raynolds. “Bright red. Sexy aromas of candied red berries, cherry-cola, anise and fresh bay, with a hint of potpourri that gains strength with air. Juicy, penetrating raspberry and cherry flavors show increasing spiciness and weight as the wine opens in the glass. The finish strongly echoes the raspberry note and lingers with impressive clarity and persistence. This is balanced to age.” 92 Points

Harvest Notes

The 2008 growing season for the 2008 wines at our vineyards was another near-perfect event. The early season was mild. The pesky spring drizzle and fog that can reduce a crop – or if severe, eliminate it entirely – was minimal for a change. The coastal locations of our vineyards helped us avoid the hottest weather that arrived just prior to harvest, and the wildfire smoke that threatened all of us on the coast in late summer never reached our vineyards. Three bullets dodged. Not bad for farming

Technical Notes

450 cases produced
alcohol: 13.5%
3.31 pH
17 months in barrel
35% new French oak


Cobb Pinot Noir Emmeline Vineyard 2006

The Vineyard

Emmaline Vineyard (“-line” rhymes with “vine”) is at the western margin of Sebastopol, California, very much influenced by the Pacific Ocean further to the west. The two Dijon varieties planted there are growing in Goldridge sandy loam, and like our other vineyards, produce about two tons per acre. However, the combination of the pinot noir varieties and the terroir of this small vineyard result in pinot noir wines that are characteristically delicate, beautifully complex, and with relatively low levels of alcohol.

Tasting Notes

Winemaker’s notes: Dark ruby color. Flavors and aromas of cherry-plum, raspberry, citrus, cranberry, and truffle; minerals and traces of clove, chocolate, and hazelnut. Has lovely finesse with clear acidity. A very complex and age-worthy wine.

Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences
Issue 23, July 16, 2009
“Faintly earthy notes add depth to cherry, dried roses, and a note of spice. Silky yet still crisp. A subtler wine with only 12.8% alcohol and a 3.3 pH. Limited amounts left of [this] extraordinary wine.”

Harvest Notes

Not only was the fruit quality in 2006 nearly perfect, all components of ripeness and flavor came together at a relatively low sugar level. This resulted in a lower alcohol pinot noir with complexity and finesse.

Technical Notes

166 cases produced. 16 months in barrel. 30% new French oak. 12.8% alcohol.

Continue reading

Tasting Notes for the Current Wines by the Glass 4/11/13

Thanks to Cathy for putting this together for us!


Drusian, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene N.V., Italy     $11

Extra Dry Prosecco opens with frothy cream and floral tones of jasmine and honeysuckle. It tastes lively and fresh in the mouth thanks to its well-integrated acidity and its piquant effervescence.

Extra Dry, granny Smith apple and white flowers that turn creamy on the mid-palate and finish crisp and clean.

Scharffenberger Brut Rose, Anderson Valley 2009    $14

Sleek, with pinpoint focus, this offers raspberry and butter cookie aromas, with crisp, elegant citrus and cherry flavors marked by ginger and spice.”

Crisp, elegant citrus and cherry flavors marked by ginger and spice

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs Brut Napa Valley     $22

Made from 100% Chardonnay rich, clean and elegant

A profile of green apple and tropical fruits are rounded out by flavors of brioche and stone fruit. Creamy minerality and mouthwatering acid drive the finish.

“The Davies family has long had a particular fondness for its Blanc de Blancs, ever since Nixon brought it to China in 1972 at the historic “Toast to Peace” in Beijing, China.

Blanc de Blancs (white from white) made from Chardonnay is the counterpart to the Blanc de Noirs (white from black), made from Pinot Noir. Blanc de Blancs was the first wine Schramsberg produced in 1965 and was America’s first commercially produced Chardonnay-based brut sparkling wine. Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs gained international recognition in 1972 when then President Nixon served the wine

While this wine can be enjoyed by itself as an apéritif, it is also perfect with fresh oysters and other shellfish, crab cakes, ceviche and grilled sea bass. It is also delicious with lemon chicken and Thai curries. Serve with aged Gouda or other hard cheeses and as a counterpoint to soft triple creams.

Flavors of brioche and stone fruit, creamy minerality and mouthwatering acid drive the finish

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne  $25

Brut Premier is the embodiment of Louis Roederer style, combining all the fruitiness and freshness of youth with the vinosity of a fully mature wine. This is a structured and elegantly mature wine, with a lively attack and a smooth palate.

Grape: 56% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Meunier, including 10% of reserve wines from three former harvests, aged in oak casks for 2-6 years.
Tasting notes: a golden colour with fine bubbles and a nose of fresh fruit and hawthorn. Smooth, complex palate mingling flavours of white-fleshed fruit (apple and pear) with red berries (blackberries, raspberries, cherries) and notes of toast and almonds. A pleasurable wine, deliciously smooth and mature

Choice of food: Brut Premier is excellent as an aperitif but also readily accompanies light entrées based on fish or shellfish.

Smooth, complex palate mingling flavours of white-fleshed fruit (apple and pear) with red berries (blackberries, raspberries, cherries) and notes of toast and almonds.

Niepoort Docil Loureiro, Vinho Verde 2011, Portugal    $9

Pale straw, fresh, ripe nose of peach, apricot and a hint of fresh herb

Bright and minerally in the mouth – flavors of ripe apple, lemon zest and ripe peach – as odd as that amalgam might seem. Really acid-driven and yet has a textural sweetness too.

Grape: Loureiro Portuguese white variety. Vinho Verde is produced from grapes which do not reach great doses of sugar. Vinho Verde does not require an aging process. Vinho Verde wines are now largely exported, and are the most exported Portuguese wines after the Port Wine.

Bright and minerally in the mouth – flavors of ripe apple, lemon zest and ripe peach. Acid-driven and yet has a textural sweetness too

Marisa Cuomo, Furore Bianco, Campania 2011, Italy $15

Hand-picked grapes are gently pressed and a cold maceration is used to obtain the finest fragrance of the fruit. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place in stainless steel for about 20/30 days.

Aging: 4 months in stainless steel

Tasting Notes: Bouquet: delicate, fruity nose, unmistakable perfumes of the Mediterranean coast

Taste: broad and balanced with light acidity that supports the freshness of the aromas

Grape: 60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella

Falanghina is an ancient Italian white wine grape.

Costa D’Amalfi Furore Bianco DOC 2010 is a broad and balanced white wine with a slight dominance of acidic note in support of the freshness of the aromas. It’s ideal served with seafood pasta.

The grapes are harvested manually, arrive intact in the winery, and after de-stemming and crushing are subjected to pressing. The juice is fermented at a controlled temperature for about 20 days.

Tasting Notes: Intense yellow color, aroma of fruit and especially citrus fruits. The flavor is complex and balanced with a slight predominance of freshness.

Complex, balanced, citrus fruits with a slight acidity

Domaine du Margalleau Vouvray Sec Vouvray, France 2011  $13

The Domaine du Margalleau 2011 sec has a beautiful perfume of honey and fresh, juicy lemon which lifts from the glass. The palate is rich, fresh, textured and has concentrated lemon and honey flavors with a stony edge. The finish is very long and perfumed.

Vouvray is a region in the Loire valley not far from Tours. This region is famous for it’s Chenin Blanc wines

Grape: Chenin Blanc

Palate is rich, fresh, textured and has concentrated lemon and honey flavors with a stony edge. The finish is very long and perfumed.

Craggy Range Te Muna Vineyard Martinborough 2011   $15

Our single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc wines provide a fascinating insight into these site derived differences. From Te Muna Road in Martinborough, the unique limestone soils produce wines that show a distinctive fine soft chalky texture and great elegance.

And in Marlborough, our Avery Vineyard yields grapes with great complexity in the lime, citrus blossom and passion fruit spectrum rather than the distinctive herbaceous and grapefruit notes typical of many Marlborough wines.

This smooth, silky white delivers pretty Key lime, Meyer lemon, passion fruit and melon notes that are elegant, balanced and delightfully tangy. all leading to the juicy finish. Grape: Sauvignon Blanc

Smooth, silky white delivers pretty Key lime, Meyer lemon, passion fruit and melon notes that are elegant, balanced and delightfully tangy

J.J. Christoffel, Riesling, Ürziger Würtzgarten, Kabinett Feinherb Mosel, Germany         2011 $15

How’s that for a tongue twister? Phonetically it’s ERTS-ih-ger VERTS-gar-ten.

Ripe sweet peach and crisp pear. Mineral backbone. Very flavorful, well balanced and not too sweet.

Ripe sweet peach and crisp pear. Nice mineral backbone and well balanced.

Grape: Riesling

Merryvale Chardonnay Carneros, 2010 (Oaky, buttery)     $18

Tasting Notes: Our 2010 Chardonnay Carneros displays expressive aromas of pear, papaya, citrus, nectarine, pineapple, toasty oak and spice.

The wine is medium weight with a round fleshy texture and a crisp sweet finish.

Production Notes: Hand sorted, whole-cluster pressed; 100% barrel fermented; with native yeast and malolactic fermentation; Barrel fermented and aged 11 months in French Oak (43% new)

Aromas: mineral/wet stone, tangerine, orange blossom, mango, papaya, fresh pineapple, baked apple and pear, vanilla

Great fruit concentration with tropical and hazelnut notes, lively acidity, crisp sweet refreshing long finish.

By the Sea, Monterey County, 2010    $20

Aging: 9 months in French Oak. 20% New

On the nose, tropical notes, hints of spearmint, white peach, and lychee.

On the palate ripened white peach, green apple, mango, and melon with a mineral accent on the finish.

2010 Chanin Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley             $24

ELEGANT: Vibrant, Citrus, Honey, Sea Salt

Chanin Wine Co. is dedicated to crafting wines from Santa Barbara County that reflect the individual vineyard in which they are grown — with a focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Gavin Chanin, who was named one of FORBES’ “30 under 30” in food and wine and a “winemaker to watch” by SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, began his winemaking career as a harvest intern at Au Bon Climat and Qupé, under the tutelage of winemakers Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist, working his way up to assistant winemaker at both labels.

The Bien Nacido Vineyard is one of the best in California and Chanin’s Chardonnay comes from vines dating back to the original 1973 plantings.  These old vines give the wine a unique mineral and nutty note. We were blown away by these wines from the Pursuit of Balance tasting in NYC.

The nose is dominated by classic chardonnay characteristics of citrus, very present stone fruit, honey blossom, and lemon rind. On the palate the fruit is reminiscent of citrus, baking spice, toasted almonds and ripe green apple.  This wine was aged for 16 months in barrel, giving it texture and natural richness. I use this traditional technique to make a lush and generous wine while keeping a high acidity and low alcohol. This makes it enjoyable on its own but also very food friendly.

The finish is long, and with intense minerality and refreshing acidity.

 Grape: Chardonnay

On the palate the fruit is reminiscent of citrus, baking spice, toasted almonds and ripe green apple.  Long finish with a refreshing acidity.


Domaine Charles Audoin, Marsannay, 2011                                    $13

Style: Rose

Grape Type: Pinot Noir

Origin: France

Region: Burgundy

Appellation: Cote de Nuits

Musky cherry and floral aromas, with notes of anise and candied orange in the background.  Fleshy and a touch warm, offering pungent red fruit flavors and showing an open-knit character.  Closes with good punch and breadth and a hint of smokiness.

Pungent red fruit flavors, balanced with a hint of smokiness.

Red Wine

Potel-Aviron Moulin-à-Vent Vieilles Vignes, France  2010    $15

91 points Wine Spectator

Well-knit, with a core of mineral and spice, and notes of blackberry, grilled plum, tar, dried floral and herb. Fine-grained tannins show on the fresh, fine-grained tannins graphite-tinged finish.

Grape: Gamay grape is largely confined to Beaujolais

Mineral and spice, and notes of blackberry, grilled plum, tar, dried floral and herb

Oakwild Ranch Toboni Vineyard Russian River Valley 2010               $17

An inviting Pinot that opens with aromas of cinnamon, cloves and wild cherry. The delicate balance of red cherry and plum flavors, soft tannins and a bright acidity create a wine that is both complex and pleasantly smooth.

Grape: Pinot Noir

Delicate balance of red cherry and plum flavors, soft tannins and a bright acidity

Domaine Michel Sarrazin, La Perrière Mercurey, Burgundy, Côte Chalonnaise 2010                    $23

A stunning, lush and very tempting Burgundy with plenty of character and charm. Long, sweet and lush, with good spice and body.

Grape: Pinot Noir

Long, sweet and lush, with good spice and body.

Domaine la Millière Tres Vieilles Vignes Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape                          $13

It exhibits a dark ruby/purple color as well as a surprisingly supple style, full body, and pure cassis and black cherry fruit intermixed with hints of Provencal herbs/garrigue, lavender and dusty, loamy soil note

Grape: 90% very-old-vine Grenache, 5% Syrah and 5% Cinsault; 100% tank-made.

Full body, and pure cassis and black cherry fruit intermixed with hints of Provencal herbs

Keenan Winery, Merlot, Napa Valley 2009     $17

Keenan has purchased Merlot grapes from the Napa Carneros district for many years. The “Carneros” is the southern region of Napa closest to the San Pablo Bay and is known for producing high quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. Merlot grown in the Carneros tends to be very fruity and soft with distinctive spicy nuances.

Keenan began purchasing Merlot from the Carneros to blend with the estate Merlot grown on Spring Mountain. The two wines are a great match; the Carneros Merlot softens the dense, powerful wines produced from the estate grown fruit. But, in 1999 we were so happy with the quality and distinctiveness of our Carneros Merlot, we decided to bottle a small amount on its own. We continue to bottle a few hundred cases of Carneros Merlot most years.

The 2009 Carneros Merlot shows jammy blackberry and raspberry aromas. Nuances of spice and cocoa emerge as the wine opens up. Silky mouth-feel and well-balanced structure allow it to show wonderfully with a variety of well seasoned dishes.

Big Merlot. Dark, plummy, with a silky mouth-feel, well balanced and structured

Lang & Reed 2010 Cabernet Franc North Coast, Saint Helena, CA   $15

The 2010 North Coast Cabernet Franc has a bright, clear violet blue color. The aromas display firm red berry, gentle lavender and licorice overtones. The palate provides a supple counter to the bright aromas yet shows a slightly huskier structure than most recent past vintages. firm tannins

Palate provides a supple counter to the bright aromas of red berry, gentle lavender and licorice, yet shows a slightly huskier structure than most recent past vintages. firm tannins

2009 Justin Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles     $18

The JUSTIN Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles in California is a delicious cabernet with a nice, rounded finish.

It is smooth and supple, making this an excellent cabernet wine to pair with food.

The Paso Robles region is land locked, creating a hot climate suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon.

The JUSTIN cabernet has loads of ripe black and red fruits on both the nose and the palate. I love the hints of vanilla on the nose and the kick of herbs and spices on the finish. There is a nice balance of acidity and structure, making this is an easy drinking cabernet. It is a perfect wine for a nice dinner at home or for your spring and summer time barbecues.

The JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with the following foods:

~ Juicy Hamburger ~ Stews ~ Braised Meats ~ Grilled Steak ~Roasted Eggplant
~ Barbecue Ribs

Tasting Notes

Aroma:Bold black fruit – cassis nose, sweet vanilla note from American oak

Palate: Dry and mouth filling, raspberry and blackberry flavors. Plush, round and dense, with modest tannins and a long, generous finish

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine, Napa Valley                                    $12

Winemaker Notes: If there is any wine of the 2011 releases that accurately demonstrates the poised, claret-like, character of the 2011 vintage it is the 2011 Sonoma Valley Old-Vine.

The late ripening Stellwagen Vineyard once again was included into this cuvee to lend its dark fruit, and Casa Santinamaria, another vineyard originally slated for vineyard designation, was included for its beautiful spice. The remainder of the wine is composed of Zinfandel from the terraced Los Chamizal Vineyard, some younger vine fruit from Rossi Ranch in Kenwood, a few barrels of Monte Rosso Zinfandel, and a dollop of old-vine Carignane and Mourvedre from my Bedrock Vineyard. This is old-school Zin- bright, focused, and energetic. Like previous releases of this wine, I would expect it will reward a year or so of short-term aging.

Black cherries and some earthiness on the nose. Bright red fruit on the palate, finishes crisply

Varietal Characteristics of Some Common Wines

Varietal Characteristics of Common Wines

In order to appreciate wine, it’s essential to understand the characteristics different grapes offer and how those characteristics should be expressed in wines. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel are all red grapes, but as wines their personalities are quite different. Even when grown in different appellations and vinified using different techniques, a varietal wine always displays certain qualities, which are inherent in the grape’s personality. Muscat should always be spicy, Sauvignon Blanc a touch herbal. Zinfandel is zesty, with pepper and wild berry flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon is marked by plum, currant and black cherry flavors and firm tannins. Understanding what a grape should be as a wine is fundamental, and knowing what a grape can achieve at its greatest is the essence of fine-wine appreciation.

In Europe, the finest wines are known primarily by geographic appellation (although this is changing; witness the occasional French and Italian varietals). Elsewhere, however—as in America, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand—most wines are labeled by their varietal names; even, sometimes, by grape combinations (Cabernet-Shiraz, for example). To a large extent, this is because in the United States, the process of sorting out which grapes grow best in which appellations is ongoing and Americans were first introduced to fine wine by varietal name. In Europe, with a longer history for matching grape types to soil and climate, the research is more conclusive: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, for instance, are the major grapes of Burgundy. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot are the red grapes of Bordeaux. Syrah dominates northern Rhône reds. Barolo and Barbaresco are both made of Nebbiolo, but the different appellations produce different styles of wine. In Tuscany, Sangiovese provides the backbone of Chianti. A different clone of Sangiovese is used for Brunello di Montalcino.

As a result, Europeans are used to wines with regional names.

In time, the New World’s appellation system may well evolve into one more like Europe’s. Already California appellations such as Carneros and Santa Maria Valley are becoming synonymous with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Oregon’s Willamette Valley is known for Pinot Noir and Australia’s Hunter Valley for Shiraz; back in California, Rutherford, Oakville and the Stags Leap District are all associated with Cabernet-based red table wines. Wineries with vested financial interests in these appellations and the marketing clout to emphasize the distinctive features of the wines grown in these areas will determine how the appellation system evolves and whether specific wine styles emerge. The appellations themselves will also determine which grapes excel and deserve special recognition.

Following are descriptions of the most commonly used Vitis vinifera grapes. American wine is also made from native Vitis labrusca, especially the Concord grape. For definitions of wine-making terms mentioned, please see the glossary. For information about wine growing regions mentioned, please see the country descriptions.

Continue reading