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CrossBarn Pinot Noirs: Artful contrasts

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When Paul Hobbs (renowned for premium wines) ventured into the idea of “value labels” in 2000 some may have questioned his wisdom, but he was right on target, especially for Pinot Noir. Now, 14 years later, with more land under cultivation and a lot more Pinot Noir available, this label is proving its worth.

By applying exacting techniques of fruit selection and winemaking to create wines that are pleasingly representative of their appellations, the CrossBarn Winery brings several classy wines well into the under $40 category. Their selection now stands at 1 Cabernet, 1 Chardonnay, 1 Rosé, and 2 Pinots.

With the 2012 vintage now released (a wonderful one throughout Northern California), both their Sonoma and Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs are continuing with a tradition of pleasing complexity that is sure to impress an ever-widening audience for these wines. After all, that is the primary goal of a value label, to attract more customers!

There is also a fun tasting opportunity to compare these two Pinots. Because they were created by the same winemaker, but use fruit from two different regions, the differences are mostly due to the grapes themselves. This makes the contrast between them subtle and artful.

The Sonoma overall seems more fruit-forward with a bouquet of bing cherries, a little toast, traces of rhubarb and floral. While the Anderson Valley has more of a toasty earth bouquet plus a tad of smoke/tar (Paul Hobbs’ experience with South American wines coming out?).

But one of the most interesting things to compare is the spicy finish emerging from the softness. Both have it, but to a different degree, with maybe more white pepper in the Sonoma.

Another attraction is the color. If you fall for a beautiful translucent ruby color in your wine, the glasses are alluring, especially under natural light.

Hey, give it a try, these things are what make Pinots like this so interesting. Many of these elements only come out in bottles priced at $65+; it’s a value.

Nicely soft wines like CrossBarn also have a wide range of food pairings, including lighter meats, poultry, brats, and even risotto. This presents an interesting opportunity for Paul and crew. Why not sell to the airlines? The first class passengers would love these.

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