WHAT: As we drift along into Indian summer we continue to get beautiful, warm days that are perfect for sipping your favorite white wine. There aren’t many wines better for those lazy days than the CrossBarn chardonnay.
It is light and fresh, full of beautiful fruit flavors balanced by vibrant acidity. You can drink it by itself, with appetizers or with a full meal. The wine is suited for many occasions.
The CrossBarn wines are nice because they are a way to get your foot in the door with Paul Hobbs wines, without paying the kind of prices those wines command. The wines are still great, but at friendlier prices.
CrossBarn has become popular with younger wine drinkers, the millennials who want great quality, low prices, and no waiting for the wine to mature in the bottle. They also like the screw cap closures on CrossBarn wines.
The wine is a gorgeous pastel gold in the glass, with aromas of stone fruit and hints of lemon zest. When you sip it you get tastes of juicy gala apples, apricot and nectarine. It is a round wine, well-balanced with crisp acidity and lingering mineral notes in the finish.
This is a lush wine, but the acidity gives it plenty of structure, putting everything in balance.
The grapes are hand harvested and whole-cluster pressed, fermented in 90 percent stainless steel and 10 percent barrels with native and selected yeast strains. All of the wine also undergoes malolactic fermentation to make it even smoother. The wine spends five months on the lees before it is bottled.
The winery likes a long, slow fermentation to increase the complexity and add to the texture. It is much more a burgundy-style chardonnay than a typical California wine.
The 2014 vintage was the third straight great harvest for CrossBarn and California, with perfect weather conditions.
The Sonoma Coast vineyards where the grapes were grown are influenced by the cool Pacific Ocean. Daytime temperatures are moderated by fog rolling in from the ocean, and nights can dip into the 40s. This gives the grapes plenty of time to mature and adds to the complexity of the wine.
While developing its own style, CrossBarn has become something of a test kitchen for the Paul Hobbs label. They are constantly on the lookout for new vineyards, and sometimes CrossBarn fruit is used for Paul Hobbs wines.
WINERY: While the Paul Hobbs Winery continues to be the flagship, CrossBarn has come on strong since its first vintage in 2000. Starting with cabernet sauvignon from estate vineyards, CrossBarn followed with chardonnay, pinot noir, rosé and now a sauvignon blanc. All are well made and affordable, ranging in price from $18 to $35.
Generally, the cabernets come from Napa and Sonoma, the pinot noir from the Anderson Valley and Sonoma, and the rest from Sonoma.
The Paul Hobbs Winery opened in Sebastopol in 1991. Those wines usually sell out quickly, with demand far outstripping supply. To help satisfy that demand, and specifically to reach younger drinkers, Hobbs opened CrossBarn with a separate facility, also in Sebastapol.
Both Paul Hobbs and CrossBarn believe in sustainable vineyard practices and gentle, non-intrusive winemaking.
Hobbs grew up on a working farm in upstate New York with 10 brothers and sisters. He later helped his father turn some apple, nut and peach orchards into vineyards. The name CrossBarn comes from the central barn and hub of the family farm in New York. The winery produces about 15,000 cases a year.
After graduating from the University of California Davis, he gained valuable experience with Robert Mondavi, Opus One, Simi, Lewis Cellars, Bodegas Catena and others.
In addition to Paul Hobbs Winery and Crossbarn, Hobbs co-owns Viña Cobos in Argentina, and through Paul Hobbs Imports he brings to the United States some of the wines he has had a hand in creating. He also consults with winemakers around the world.
Especially known for his ability to find and develop great vineyards, Hobbs was called the Steve Jobs of wine by Forbes Magazine.
The gorgeous winery in Sebastopol is open to visitors, but you must make an appointment. They also offer a 90-minute tasting experience of the current releases and library wines with a tour of the estate for $45.
The spectacular tasting room designed by architect Howard Backen combines with incredible food and first-rate wines to create a memorable event. The winery is one of a handful that is showing visitors the benefits of proper food and wine pairings.
GOES WITH: My wife, Teri, and I had the CrossBarn chardonnay with homemade chicken noodle soup, one of my favorite soups. It’s not exactly an elegant meal, but the wine paired perfectly.
The crisp chardonnay cut through the savory soup and refreshed our taste buds. Each sip revealed a new layer of flavor. Teri especially like the wine because she likes lean chardonnays that don’t overpower you with butter or oak.
CrossBarn chardonnay would pair well with mild fish, shrimp, grilled chicken or turkey, and a wide variety of mild cheese. It also would be a good sipping wine without food.