**Editors' Choice** This exquisitely crafted model of balance offers lemon-bar meringue and baked pear on the nose before revealing a tightrope of minerality and lush concentration on the palate, weighted perfectly against each other. Fleshy and delicious, the wine has so much fine fruit to offer now it’d be shame to wait, yet it will clearly hold onto its beauty with age.
A wine of considerable potential, the 2012 Chardonnay Richard Dinner Vineyard bristles on the palate with energy and pure tension. Chalky tannins provide the backbone for this superb, highly expressive Chardonnay loaded with mineral notes. Bright citrus and white floral notes linger on the finish. There is a lot to look forward to here. I very much like the sense of energy. This is a big step up from the 2011. Paul Hobbs is always in motion. In late 2012 Hobbs acquired a new property in Coombsville, Napa Valley's most recent AVA. Just recently, Hobbs announced an ambitious new venture to make Riesling in New York State's Finger Lakes region with Johannes Selbach. That is of course in addition to the many wines Hobbs already makes in Sonoma for his own labels and with his many consulting clients in California and Argentina. Fortunately for Hobbs, he can count on the talents of winemaker Megan Bacitich, who takes care of the day to day at Hobbs's Sebastopol winery. I tasted a number of terrific wines on a recent visit. Overall, the 2012 Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are a little bit softer and rounder than the 2011s. Sugars were slightly higher, while fermentations proceeded at a slower, more leisurely pace. Readers will also want to make note of the Crossbarn wines (reviewed separately), which offer terrific value and quality.
Unstinting in deep, impressively extracted, ripe-apple fruit in its mildly creamy, deftly oaked aromas and, if anything, richer still on the palate, this involving, multi-layered wine once again displays its maker’s uncanny knack for creating bright and exceptionally well-balanced Chardonnays of serious substance and size. Weighty, yet fairly lively and sleek in spite of its concentration and richness, it is vital and wonderfully complex stuff, and those who are lucky enough to procure a bottle or two would be well advised to exercise a bit of self-discipline and resist its manifold immediate charms because it will only get better with age.
Vivid gold. Smoky peach and poached pear aromas are lifted by chalky mineral and lemon pith qualities. Densely packed orchard and pit fruit flavors provide excellent palate coverage and pick up an iodiney nuance with air. At once rich and vibrant, finishing with outstanding clarity and mineral-driven persistence, leaving a suave floral note behind.
The 2012 Chardonnay Richard Dinner Vineyard was far superior to the relatively disappointing 2011 Richard Dinner offering. Its light gold/green color is accompanied by lots of honeyed citrus, white peach and poached pear notes intertwined with background smoky oak. It will drink well for 4-6 years. Paul Hobbs has built quite an empire, both as a worldwide respected wine consultant and as the owner of his winery in Sonoma Valley. I reviewed his Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon cuvees in Issue 209, and on this visit I tasted through his 2011 and 2012 Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs as well as a few Syrahs. His wines consistently hit all the high notes, and Hobbs continues to be a serious talent. I particularly enjoy his Cross Barn, inexpensive Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The 2011 Chardonnays range from tiny productions of 138 cases for the Ulises Valdez to 3,600 for the Russian River Chardonnay. The 2012s all reveal the tremendous up-front fruit characteristics of this year along with surprisingly high average alcohols, and good fresh acids. Paul Hobbs has introduced two Cross Barn Pinot Noir cuvees, one from the Sonoma Coast and one from Anderson Valley. These wines use a tiny bit of stems during their fermentations, and spend four months in barrel, 15% of which is new. Tasting through these same cuvees in 2012 demonstrated just how gorgeous this vintage is across the board in Northern California.
2015 Williams Selyem "Lewis MacGregor Estate Vineyard" Russian River Valley Chardonnay (Previously $90)
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