Tasting Report: 2008 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sometimes I wonder why I do it. By "it" I mean consulting wine ratings from publications, combining those opinions with reviews from other wine enthusiasts, and tracking them down at the best fully-loaded prices I can find. A lot of times the wine just can't live up to the accolades - I can't see my way to the massive numerical rating it's attained.  Other times the wine steps up and absolutely delivers the goods.

From the first sip I could see my way to the 94 point rating Wine Spectator bestowed upon the 2008 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir Russian River Valley - and that's not always the way it goes. The wine immediately reminded me of some of my favorite California Pinot Noirs. It's more restrained than the Kosta Brownes I've had, and doesn't have the earthy nuances I've enjoyed in Sea Smoke's wines. It delivers generous fruit, but it also has this subtle tobacco leaf note I've enjoyed in wines from Clary Ranch and Belle Glos Las Alturas.

For me, a great Pinot Noir is as much about what it doesn't have. So many reveal stemmy/green aromas that I find distracting. Some of my favorites (Zepaltas, Radio-Coteau, and Red Car) succeed for their vibrant purity, lacking any off notes.

This wine isn't necessarily a bargain play at $45. I just think it absolutely steps up and delivers exactly what I'm looking for in a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.  And that's what I expect in a $45 domestic bottle of wine.

It might be hard to find the 08 around anymore and the 09 is already in stores (2009 will probably be a more highly regarded vintage for California Pinot Noir). I'll look forward to trying the 09. Note this isn't the "Crossbarn" bottling I'm referring to which sells in the $30s. I haven't had that wine but just thought to point it out in case you see the Crossbarn pop up in searches.

Here are my notes:

2008 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
14.5% Alcohol
3,644 Cases Produced
$45 Release Price
Purchased at: Hingham Wine Merchant

Visually it's slightly dark for Pinot and perhaps veers more towards purple than it should. On the nose it is very pleasant with freshly cut strawberries and a hint of tobacco leaf. On the palate is where this wine really steps up and leaves $20 Pinot Noirs behind. It pours on clean elegant fruit and adds some beautiful slightly-sweet spicy flavors. Silky smooth without a hint of a green or off note. Man, I wish I would have bought more of this.

95/100 WWP: Classic

See other reviews on CellarTracker
Find it in retail shops on Wine-Searcher.com

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