Visit to Cobb Wines – A star in the Sonoma Coast region

Introduction to Cobb Wines

The Cobb Wines estate was founded in 2001 by Ross Cobb and his father David Cobb. Ross is a winemaker and David works in the vineyard. Cobb Wines have their own vineyards, where the oldest were planted in 1989, but they also source grapes from other growers in the region. Cobb Wines focuses on Sonoma coast vineyards with its cool climate in order to render elegant and refined expression of their pinot noir wines.

During my visit I met with Ross Cobb who comes across as very knowledgeable but also very humble and constantly searching for new ways to improve his wines. Ross has experience from other producers in the region but he has also done extensive traveling to Burgundy and shows great interest and knowledge about how they work in Burgundy.

A few short notes about how Cobb Wines produces their wines

  • They select cool sites and harvest early to ensure wines with a lighter and more refined expression.
  • They use lightly toasted and fine grained oak to ensure the wine is not overtaken by oak flavours.
  • A minimum of 22 months in oak, often beginning with a higher amount of new oak and then reducing this depending on how the wine develops.
  • Ross is also experimenting with up to 30 months in oak but then with a less percentage of new oak.
  • A rather long cold soak of 2 weeks, beginning with whole grapes, and then approximately 9-14 days of fermentation.
  • They use dry farming when the vines are old enough to handle it.
  • When they buy grapes they always have longer relationships and full right to decide the vineyard management
  • They do no filtration.

Tasting notes for the wines from Cobb Wines

2014 Cobb Pinot Noir Emmaline Ann

Vines planted in 1998 and Cobb has worked with them since 2006.

Careful and elegant nose with an almost sweet red fruit, marzipan and some Asian spices. Soft but very nice acidity and a juicy expression on the palate. Again some Asian spices but also oranges on the palate. This is an elegant and soft wine with good balance.

2014 Cobb Pinot Noir Rice-Spivak

Vines planted in 1998, Cobb has worked with them since 2003.

Brimming red fruit with raspberries, cherries and lingonberries, but also some spices. There is a silky tannic structure and an energetic acidity. The fruit is slightly tart on the palate. This is a forward wine with a vibrant expression and great fruit. Will have a long life ahead.

2014 Cobb Pinot Noir Coastlands Vineyard: 1906 Block Pommard

There is fresh red fruit on a basis of darker fruit where blackberries dominated. The palate is surprisingly slim with vibrant and tight acidity and young dark fruit. There are also spicy notes and a slight earthiness. This is a complex wine that will need time do develop completely and find its balance, but the potential is great.

2013 Cobb Pinot Noir Coastlands Vineyard: Diane Cobb

Complex nose with rather dark fruit, like blueberries, cherries and blackberries, but also lingonberries, earthy notes, minerals and some herbs. Very juicy and fresh acidity with a mouthwatering feel. On the palate we also find orange peel and again herbal notes. For a rather forward and complex wine it has a slim and fresh finish. This is a fantastic wine.

2012 Cobb Pinot Noir Coastlands Vineyard: Old Firs Block

This is an intense wine with a rather dark expression on the fruit notes, an abundance of earthiness but also a slight oak influence. There are dark cherries, blueberries, minerals and some lingonberries. The tannic structure gives some backbone and there is a good acidity that prevents the wine from getting heavy. Will need much more time to peak.

Summary of impressions from the visit to Cobb Wines

You can probably tell from the tasting notes that I was very impressed by the wines from Cobb.
Two things stand out for me: 1. The great balance in the wines, already at this young age; 2. The complexity and multi layered expression, where the fruit is just one component. Even though it is not the ambition of Ross to make copies of the wines from Burgundy the kinship is very apparent.

My favourite at this tasting was the 2013 Diane Cobb, but I was also very impressed by the even quality and I think it is worth mentioning the energy in the Rice-Spivak, the completeness of the 1906 Block Pommard and the complexity of the Old Firs Block. This is a great line up.

I will definitely follow the development of Cobb Wines with great interest also in the future. Well done so far!

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