April 6, 2013, Calistoga
After a couple months of trying to get on each others schedules, i was finally able to get together with Cameron and Bahenah Hobel and growerDick Engelhard at their vineyard today. The property is situated on a gentle slope just off Franz Valley School Road not more than 5 minutes from my house. In addition to Hobel, Engelhard grows for several other high profile producers that even though he didn’t ask me to mention, I choose not to. The wines are made by Thomas Brown who has been responsible for some of the most sought after wines made in California.
The vineyard blocks used by Hobel are primarily divided among See Clone, 4 and 6. Premeiring in the 2009 vintage it was one of the wines (along with Luscher Ballard) I needed to learn about from Carl Studer in Lucerne, Switzerland.
2009 Hobel Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, Engelhard Vineyard, 14.5%, 193 cs., $75
Typical of the 2009 vintage the nose is forward with round, ripe impressions of spice, blackberry and supple stone fruits. The palate is beautifully supple with red currant, blackberry concentration and intensity on the mid-palate finishing with impeccable balance. Drink 2013 - 2022. 96 points.
2010 Hobel Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, Engelhard Vineyard, 14.1%, 313 cs., $75
The nose has outstanding red fruit and blackberry coupled with underlying black walnut and whiffs of juniper. The palate is firm blackberry on entry showing just stunning purity in the fruit. It is very dialed in for balance with a supple, polished finish of plum, blackberry, carbon and black walnut. Drink 2013 - 2022. 94 points.
Who remembers this picture from April 1, 2011? That was the day I stopped writing my blog and began developing the only independent subscription-based wine review publication covering California, Oregon and Washington, exclusively. Posting on April Fools Day, I spoofed it a little but for those who know me, the picture says it all. Already never a fan of speed-blogging, tweetups and Wine Wednesday, I realized I wanted to do more than blog. I guess it could have happened sooner but may have developed a lot differently.
What many people don’t know is that one of the main drivers in deciding to make the switch when I did was what amounted to a vacuum of coverage in domestic wines in late Winter 2011. I had spent years writing my thoughts and opinion on wines months ahead of other reviewers and upon examination largely the only differerence I saw is that they had subscribers, and I didn’t. I viewed becoming a professional critic as an opportunity that may not come along again anytime soon. With the mantra among the wine blogging world being ‘monetization’ of their work, I just decided to do it but in a way that made sense for me. As it turns out, with pdwr growing, completely independent and free of advertising, elsewhere wine criticism is spiraling into disarray.
I look back on the last 24 months today in appreciation of how purely domestic wine report has unfolded and steadily grown organically with zero advertising. In March 2011, all I really knew was that the time for the change had arrived. It was just one of those truths that stares you in the face. Getting to the first issue, and through the point where I published it was one of the most grueling six months of my life. After that, I found each of the subsequent issues were easier to produce but still come with regularity where downtime between issues is usually less than two weeks. I try to make the publication better incrementally. The next volume will cover the Pacific Northwest and appear in early May (on time).
Currently, my North Coast issue, Volume 2.2 is in release serving as the faint beacon of opinion for the Sonoma Coast. I have learned so much about myself as a publisher, critic and photographer in the last two years and thank you for the encouragement, engagement and belief in the alternative viewpoint of purely domestic wine report.
I am also working on creating a new subscriber-only website with fully integrated commerce. In a couple weeks I attend a two day workshop on iPhone photography in San Francisco. Finally I am exploring partnerships to help make the Advanced membership a world-class experience. The next two years should be amazing.
Thanks for joining me on the journey!
The list is finally ready to be viewed. All of the wines that were tasted in 2012 went through my review process to come up with two dozen that I felt were outstanding examples. It wasn’t as simple as looking at the highest scoring wines, because i recognize that at some stages of wine enjoyment you need a vibrantly fresh pink wine while others beckon for a cerebral Pinot Noir.
No list is perfect and I certainly don’t claim this one to be. With purely domestic wine report just getting off the ground in 2012, there were a lot more wines to taste than in 2011 and i expect that trend to expand in the future.
Subscription is not required to view this list. For those who have registered and not subscribed, this will offer you some insights into what type of content my subscribers enjoy throughout the year.
To open the list in my standard viewing version, please click on the pdwr icon above. If you wish to subscribe. Please follow the links in the report.
Thank you for coming to pdwr over the past year. Without advertising, list purchasing, or PR, this publication has very quietly grown organically 400% in registered membership over the last 16 months. If you are here it is because you have sought me out or been referred by a friend. I hope you like what you see and appreciate the effort that goes into producing it.
Here is to a great year in wine!
founder, publisher + critic
purely domestic wine reort
The idea of offering wine videos has been around for a number of years, yet it took the outsized personality of Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library to make the jump from nerdy niche to more mainstream consciousness. Gary abruptly ended the rabidly entertaining and acclaimed Wine Library TV in 2011. What’s left is either situated behind paywalls of sites intended only for subscribers, or covers a wide range of free video available from well-respected authorities like Jamie Goode, on down to a handful of amateurs who do a pretty thorough job of mangling the material they present, no matter how attractive the wine or the scenery, and seem to not understand the purpose of a spit bucket. I’m the first to admit videos are a challenge, I have offered a few on this site but I realize it takes a lot of time and practice to do well, and I have not had the inclination to make that commitment as it would take time away from the publication of purely domestic wine report which is my main priority.
Just this week, I learned of a new website called GrapeLegends.com through a post on the eRobertparker.com bulletin board. It is the result of the vision of a serious oenophile named Robert Kenney, better known amongst the denizens of the site as merely ‘Kenney’. His ambitious plan is to offer a weekly video interview with personalities from the wine industry. His first guest was none other than the articulate Antonio Galloni, wine critic of The Wine Advocate, presumably filmed in the NYC area. The interview, presented in short clips, offered some insightful questions allowing Galloni plenty of time to answer fully and candidly.
As with any new undertaking, I imagine the somewhat sparse site will evolve, much in the same way pdwr has. Currently, Kenney posts his interview questions in a flash of text on-screen that could benefit from lasting longer and contrasting more with the background. For the time being, Kenney tells me he is not interested in injecting himself into the frame. It remains to be seen if that continues. With more solid interviews in the future, viewers may press to see the man behind the curtain, providing more interaction with the guest.
For more information and to view the Galloni interview, please go to www.grapelegends.com
I have added the link to Grape Legends to the sidebar in this online journal.