Paul Hobbs Russian River Chardonnay 2017
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Leading off the Chardonnays from Hobbs, the 2017 Chardonnay Russian River Valley comes from multiple sites and spent ten months in 55% new French oak. Its medium gold color is followed by a rich, upfront bouquet of Caramelized pineapple, tangerine, honeysuckle, spice, and a touch of toasted nuts. It's rich, concentrated, has beautiful mid-palate heft, and nicely integrated acidity. It's a rocking wine as well as a great introduction into the wines of this great winemaker.
Dried apricots, mangoes, apricot pie and spices. Medium-bodied with layers of stone and even tropical fruit, bright acidity and a medium-long finish. So well defined and focused. Drink now.
It may not come with specific vineyard designation, but this lovely effort rivals its pricier, single-site siblings in layered richness and sheer generosity and is in no way a lesser wine. It, too, is a full and very outgoing wine that is decked out with plenty of fancy, slightly caramelly oak and sports very deep, ripe apple fruit that hold and holds. While the one we would choose for drinking first among the three Paul Hobbs Chardonnays reviewed in this issue owing to its slight palatal plumpness, it is balanced to keep and will easily provide another four or five years of unqualified drinking pleasure.
The 2017 Chardonnay has a wonderful perfume of apple pie and grated nutmeg with notes of wet hay, honeycomb, cheese rind and peach cobbler plus touches of crushed stone, mushroom and wet bark. The palate is medium to full-bodied, rounded and silky with intense, savory flavor layers and bright acidity kicking in on long the finish. 5,964 cases produced.
Paul Hobbs has built his winery's portfolio from the ground up on a foundation of strong, collaborative relationships with the growers of some of Napa's and Sonoma's most compelling and historical properties. Meticulous vineyard management followed by minimally-invasive winemaking techniques is Paul Hobbs approach for producing wines that express their vineyard origins with utmost finesse, complexity and authenticity; in other words, wines with a sense of place. As a winemaker, Paul is highly regarded for his ability to identify exceptional vineyards along with his pioneering, innovative work with new and historical sites and regions. His success has inspired a wealth of nicknames among the press, from quiet trendsetter to truffle-hunting dog. He founded Paul Hobbs Winery in 1991, Vina Cobos in 1999 and is a leading consultant winemaker around the globe.
A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, the Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river that flows through it. While there are warm pockets of the AVA, it is mostly a cool-climate growing region thanks to breezes and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in Russian River, with the best examples demonstrating a unique combination of richness and restraint. The cool weather makes Russian River an ideal AVA for sparkling wine production, utilizing the aforementioned varieties. Zinfandel also performs exceptionally well here. Within the Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. The former, farther from the ocean, is relatively warm, with a focus on red and white Bordeaux varieties. The latter is the coolest, foggiest parcel of the Russian River Valley and is responsible for outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.