Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 12, 2018

2016 Kobza, Old Vine Field Blend Red, Mourvedre/Zinfandel, Wirz Vineyard, San Benito County.
Ryan Kobza’s 110 year old vine field blend from Pat Wirz’s historic vines in the Cienega Valley is wonderfully fresh and easy in the glass, completely different than what I had been expecting from this blend of mostly Mourvedre (close to 60%) and Zinfandel (about 40%) along with small percentages of Rose of Peru, Mourtaou (Cabernet Pfeffer), and the occasional cluster of Palomino, it’s a light to medium bodied wine that reminds me of an old world country wine. Kobza, who works production for I. Brand & Family Winery and does custom crush work for a wide variety of clients, has a tiny personal label focusing on this heritage vineyard site in San Benito County that was originally planted back in 1903 and bought by the Wirz family in the 1940’s, with Pat Wirz still working this old vine gem. Ryan is enthralled with this place, he adds that, the entire vineyard is dry-farmed, head trained, and own rooted, just as it was done 120 years ago. The Riesling, a 50 year block that he also uses to make a dry example, is planted in a single contiguous block along a small creek, while the reds here are an inter-planted, bush vine field blend of Zinfandel, Mourtaou (known also as Cabernet Pfeffer), Mourvedre, and Carignan with the super rare Rose of Peru and Palomino (the Sherry white grape) occasionally interspersed within. Inspired by underlined varietals in Italy as well as the new generation of winemakers that are exploring old style wines in Sicily, like Gulfi, Occhipinti and others. Ryan mentions he wants to make wines that have rustic charm and compliment simple meals, he cites his love of bright Barbera from Piedmonte as a guiding light wine with it’s juicy nature and vibrant acidity that allows easy drinking and with enough structure to age, and with this reference in mind it really helps to understand his wines in the bottle, especially this one. Kobza adds “I also just have a penchant for the odd, under-appreciated and forgotten grapes, (like) Schiopettino, Nero d’Avola, Frappato, etc. There an endless number of grapes from which to make wine and so many have unique and intriguing characteristics worthy of exploration.” I really enjoy this fun wine with it’s joyous energy and delicacy, it almost reminds me of a Beaujolais meets Frappato! Kobza’s old vine red starts with a burst of concord grape, earth, spice and briar notes with subtle floral and game leading to a palate that includes black raspberry, strawberry, macerated cherry and wild plum fruits along with crushed stones, leather, minty herb/anise, cinnamon and peppery notes. Tangy and natural in style, Kobza used about 15% whole cluster, it was all co-fermented and aged in well seasoned French barriques, this wine joins a growing list of intriguing lighter style California reds that are gaining a following from adventurous young wine drinkers, like Martha Stoumen’s latest offerings, and it will appeal to those that like Trousseau, Gamay and Negrette. Ryan Kobza is a great addition to the Monterey wine scene, he, Miguel Lepe (Lepe Cellars, ex-Figge and Bold Wines) and Ryan Stirm (Stirm Wines) are the new faces to watch, and his micro winery is one to follow, I also have to mention his fabulous Rosé of Mourtaou, made from 100 year old vines and with partial malo, it is ultra cool and will thrill those that like Clos Cibonne Tibouren Rosé, it’s exciting times in this region and Kobza Wines is label to discover. Drink this Old Vine Field Blend over the next 3 to 5 years, it, by the way gains depth and personality with extended air, I liked it as it changed in the glass over an hour and it was even more interesting and gripping the next day, impressive stuff, give it a chance/time to show it’s best and have it with robust cuisine.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive