This is my first taste of Kobza Wines, but not my first taste of Ryan Kobza’s wines. He’s winemaker for the previously reviewed Big Sur Vineyards Chardonnay and Big Sur Vineyards red blend. Ryan was kind enough to send me a sampling of wines under his eponymous label and I started with this red blend.
I can’t even put into words how delicious this wine was. It was just a straight up experience drinking this wine. Everything was so in balance, that we just kept pouring glass after glass. I’ll use the word gluggable because, at the end of the day it is. But, oh please do not glug this wine too quickly.
I used to be the kind of wine drinker that would absolutely shy away from Riesling. That is until I met a new sommelier-friend who showed me that many Americans have a misconception about what Riesling really is, what it tastes like, and how versatile it can be—especially when it comes to German Riesling. Since that time I’ve been more open minded, tasting Rieslings from both abroad and at home and have been impressed what our New World winemakers have to offer. What I love about this expression of Riesling is that it tastes, for lack of a better expression, naked. As if I’m really tasting, not just the grape, but the vineyard—the dirt, the surrounding fields, the river that runs through it all. There are wines that you drink and then there are wines you experience. Experience Kobza Wines 2016 Wirz Vineyard Dry Riesling with me…
There’s a running theme when you drink Kobza Wines. Ryan Kobza, winemaker of his eponymous private label crafts wines that are not just elegantly restrained, speaking of vintage and vineyard, he makes wines that are just down right gluggable.
Open a bottle of anyone of his wines and you’ll find yourself looking at an empty bottle in no time asking, “Where’s the wine?” But I encourage you not to, actually, glugg this, or any, of his wines. I urge you, instead, to sip and savor. Because wines like this don’t come around too often. Enjoy.
Being a California native, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz, and a regular ground-stomper of Monterey County, I’m amazed I’m only now learning about Big Sur Vineyards. But, to be fair, though the winery takes the name of a famous stretch of California coast, it’s a boutique, family-run operation.
Husband and wife duo Lenora Carey and Richard Gebhardt moved to the area back in 1983 becoming purveyors of lavender, olive and citrus trees, crafting essential oils and soaps in addition to selling their fresh produce. But it wasn’t long until they became enthused about what kind of grape varieties grew well in the area. Lovers of Rhone varietals, they picked and pressed the grapes of neighbors for many years — namely Grenache, Syrah, and Petit Sirah. And so it was, when they blended these three together, the “Big Sur Red” was born.
Known for their cool-climate Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays harvested predominantly from Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, Hahn Family Wines is probably most commonly associated with their casual, supermarket-find wines — the ‘SLH’ and eponymous ‘Hahn’ labeled wines. But what many don’t know is that the still family-owned vineyard and winery takes great care to sustainably manage their four SLH estate vineyards — and with Paul Clifton at the winemaking helm, also produce limited releases of beautifully refined single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.
I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days in Monterey County, diving deep into the unique terroir of the Santa Lucia Highlands, and getting to know more about the Hahn family legacy and — of course — their wines.