Monday, April 25, 2005

Paul Hobbs Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
I’m not a big fan of Pinot Noir. Its not because I don’t like the grape, or the wine it makes, its just that I’ve never had a really good pinot. And its not that I haven’t looked, Australia, California, Pacific Northwest, and France have all been part of the search. OK, maybe I have not looked in the right vineyards and not spent the right amount of money to buy the pleasure of a great pinot. But I have never equated spending a lot of money on a bottle of wine as equaling quality, and particularly not the great pleasure that can come from drinking an unexpectedly good wine.

Unexpectedly good wine was what was in the glass of Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir that I sampled at the Vintage Wines Wine Bar on Saturday. I’d gone there for the Aussie Values tasting (more about that later in the week) and decided that I would try a few of the wines on the Wine Bar. Call it the SIDEWAYS effect, simple interest or just plain thirst, but I pointed out the Paul Hobbs as one of the five wines I wanted to taste. Among the other wines tasted were an Aussie Shiraz, a California Syrah and a Petite Syrah. Heavy-duty company for a delicate pinot!

Well maybe not so delicate! The 2003 Paul Hobbs Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is a slightly murky cherry red with a red edge; yes its unfiltered. A quick swirl reveals ripe fruit and wonderful spicy aromas that reminded me of ripe quince. In the mouth its medium bodied, very soft and supple with great balance. Others might say “velvety palate feel” but I’ve never tasted velvet. What is velvet is what the wine does in your mouth. If described in detail, it would probably be obscene in several countries. Those spicy, quince-like aromas expand and explode in wave after wave of intensity as you breathe out through your nose; its called retronasal breathing and this wine will give you the real deal! Bloody fantastic.

I bought a bottle for Miranda and me to drink at our leisure over the rest of the weekend. Opened on Saturday night, it was still going strong when I reluctantly finished the last few drops on Sunday night. An excellent Pinot Noir, and the best I can remember having. (2, 2, 4.2, 10.5 = 18.7, (93), 14.6% alcohol. $32.99USD. Tasted April 23-24, 2005.)

Oh, you want to know what Robert Parker, Jr. says about the wine? “The 2003 Pinot Noir Russian River (1,178 cases) shows deep ruby color and a big, sweet nose of cherry jam, intermixed with a hint of rose petals, earth, Allspice, and some wood. It is ripe, medium-bodied, and fruit-driven. Drink it over the next 3-4 years.” Wine Advocate #157 (Feb 2005) 89 Points.

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