If you love genuine site-driven pinot noir, Sonoma Coast is either on your radar or should be. The area has become a go-to for growers, winemakers, and pinot lovers alike. It’s a cool growing region that’s also filled with a wide diversity of sites.
David and Ross Cobb established the family’s Coastlands Vineyard there in 1989. The winery followed in 2001 and in addition to their own property they work with four other small independent growers. Ross Cobb’s experience includes stints at Williams Selyem, Hirsch, and Flowers, each known for exquisite pinot noirs. His experience at that trio of producers as well as at the family’s own winery means that he has incredible knowledge of almost every vineyard on the far western Sonoma Coast.
The pinot noirs from Cobb are distinct, vineyard-driven expressions of the grape. The fruit in each of them screams out and is gently accented and highlighted by the judicious use of oak. Two of these wines come in at under 13 percent ABV and one is just a bit over at 13.3 percent. There’s proportion, nuance, and elegance to spare across the board here. Cobb wines are small-lot affairs at just a couple of hundred cases apiece; if you really love expertly grown, tended, and bottled pinots that speak of place, get some of Cobb's.
Considering the quality, singularity, and wow factor in each bottle, I imagine it won’t be too long before these are allocated wines that become difficult to get your hands on, so start looking for them now. It’s nearly impossible to overstate how fantastic this trio of pinot noirs is. As for those other producers Cobb worked with, these wines surpass those. The tension between fruit and acid that ties them together makes them incredibly exciting.
Cobb Wines Emmaline Ann Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 ($75)
All of the fruit came from the namesake vineyard, which is all of three acres in size. Only 310 cases were produced. Red fruit and savory herbs inform the nose. Bits of cranberry, red delicious apple, cherry, and spice fill the mouthwatering palate. The long finish exhibits bits of earth, mushroom, and continued red fruit flavors.
Cobb Wines Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 ($75)
The Cobbs have worked with this vineyard since 2003, and they make all the farming decisions. It’s planted to the Swan and Dijon Noir clones. Production was 310 cases. Hints of barnyard and engaging red fruit aromas leap from the glass once you pour the wine. In the first sip, sour red fruits, spice, and mushroom lead the way. The impressive finish shows off a hint of toasted chestnut, cranberry, and a tremendous core of spices. A rock-solid core of acidity keeps it all in check.
Cobb Wines Coastlands Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 ($80)
The fruit is from a single block within the Cobb vineyard, planted in 1998. They named it the 1906 Block since the first rancher on this land carved that date — the year of the great San Francisco earthquake — into a tree on the property. It’s planted to the Pommard clone. A mere 200 cases were produced. Savory herb aromas lead the charge followed by dark fruits. The palate is stuffed to the brim with cherry, blueberry, and red plum flavors that are underpinned by spice and floral elements. The impossibly long, acid-rich finish shows off continued fruit, minerals, earth, and a hint of thyme.