Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

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Steve Anderson
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Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#1 Post by Steve Anderson » November 16th, 2018, 7:11 pm

Ok, he’s not on the SF Chronicle “Winemakers to Watch” list yet, but perhaps should be. Most of the Seattle WB crew know him, as do some of us in his former home town of San Diego, but I don’t see that anyone has posted about board member Travis Allen’s Kobayashi Wines here yet. Travis is still a “part time” winemaker with a serious day job and young family, but each release (now on his third) garners more accolades, even with miniscule production on the order of one barrel per wine. Travis has already received some major love from Jeb Dunnuck for his 2014-2015-2016 Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Francs, but Stephen Tanzer’s Vinous review yesterday on Travis’ new 2017 Boushey Vineyard Marsanne caught my attention. “Very much in the style of a topnotch rich white Hermitage…” and a later “…I was spellbound” were just a few words of the lengthy praise from a tough reviewer. Those who know Travis know he is a perfectionist, and he's said he agonizes over and often second-guesses many of his winemaking decisions. Probably because they are anything but conservative or conventional. The Cab Francs receive extended maceration in puncheon, where the barrel is spun rather than conducting punch downs or pump overs. As for the Marsanne, the release note back in July indicates Travis had thoughts of dumping the wine a few months into the process.

“The Marsanne was something I couldn’t pass up. I was planning to go all out Guigal ex voto style, but I wanted to do something My Way. We hand selected and destemmed the most beautiful grapes and put them into a stainless steel cylinder with holes. Then we pressed the majority of the fruit whole cluster into a new French oak barrel. The cylinder and whole grapes were inserted in the barrel to allow for a minor amount of skin contact during the first several weeks of primary fermentation – the whole time aromas of pear pie were out of control. After 3 months I racked the Marsanne into a once used French Acacia wood barrel. In March, the wine went to a place I wasn’t happy with and I was planning to dump it… but lo and behold, it has emerged from the cocoon as a beautiful butterfly. The pear and baking spices are still subtly there, but it is so much more. Tropical, full bodied, complex and walking in the margin where orange flesh meets green on a melon rind. There is a marzipan nuttiness that could be mistaken as an oxidative note, but it is just a typicity of the Marsanne grape variety.”

Can't wait to give it a try.

Travis has also bottled and released a Cabernet, and produced a natural “nothing added” Mourvedre which he has not released, but that I thought was just stunning when he shared a bottle at a group dinner during Hospice du Rhone in Paso this past April. Hope he will be letting some of that go as well as doing a similar bottling in the future. He also recently harvested some Red Mountain Viognier from north-facing slopes. Knowing his love for Gangloff, Villard, and Cuilleron, it will be fun to see his take on that grape!

Posting this at the risk of further watering down already meager two-bottle allocations of each wine, but Travis truly deserves the recognition and kudos. This board has always supported winemakers who are also “good people” and Travis is just that. One of the most thoughtful, genuine and generous folks I know, and he and his wife Mario (Kobayashi) are consummate hosts each time we see them. It would be easy to support Travis even if the wines were just ok, but they are quite good. Keep an eye out for the wines and an eye on Travis!

Cheers, [cheers.gif]

Steve

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#2 Post by PaulMills » November 16th, 2018, 7:54 pm

As soon as they come out with a Maru counterpart, I will buy it.

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#3 Post by H Bongiovi » November 16th, 2018, 10:12 pm

Hi Steve,
Thanks for your great post; I agree completely with it!
Travis is a great guy and a wonderful winemaker; I have been lucky enough to try a couple of his bottlings (one of which I posted about on another board);
I wish him all the success in the world; the recognition that he has received from Mr. Tanzer and Mr. Dunnuck is well deserved and just the beginning!
Cheers,
Henry
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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#4 Post by Chris Blum » November 17th, 2018, 5:26 am

PaulMills wrote:
November 16th, 2018, 7:54 pm
As soon as they come out with a Maru counterpart, I will buy it.
I always thought Kobayashi wines were undrinkable. That was their whole point.

(But maybe I’m just thinking of Frank Cornelissen)
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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#5 Post by PaulMills » November 17th, 2018, 6:44 am

Chris Blum wrote:
November 17th, 2018, 5:26 am
PaulMills wrote:
November 16th, 2018, 7:54 pm
As soon as they come out with a Maru counterpart, I will buy it.
I always thought Kobayashi wines were undrinkable. That was their whole point.

(But maybe I’m just thinking of Frank Cornelissen)

champagne.gif I am glad someone understood.


The wines do sound interesting and I like the varieties he is making, I really interested in the Marsanne. What are the price points?

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#6 Post by YLee » November 17th, 2018, 7:23 am

PaulMills wrote:
November 17th, 2018, 6:44 am
Chris Blum wrote:
November 17th, 2018, 5:26 am
PaulMills wrote:
November 16th, 2018, 7:54 pm
As soon as they come out with a Maru counterpart, I will buy it.
I always thought Kobayashi wines were undrinkable. That was their whole point.

(But maybe I’m just thinking of Frank Cornelissen)

champagne.gif I am glad someone understood.


The wines do sound interesting and I like the varieties he is making, I really interested in the Marsanne. What are the price points?
I think $75
-¥ 0 ñ 9

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#7 Post by Brian Tuite » November 17th, 2018, 7:26 am

Chris Blum wrote:
November 17th, 2018, 5:26 am

I always thought Kobayashi wines were undrinkable. That was their whole point.
They may do well for washing down dozens of Coney Island Hot Dogs, or are there already Chestnut Wines? [wink.gif]
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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#8 Post by Scott Tallman » November 17th, 2018, 8:15 am

Chiming in to concur with Steve - Travis is a great guy, and while I’ve only tasted his wines from barrel, I’ve been impressed. I think WA Cab Franc generally is way too slick, but Travis’ has soul and, while not Loire-like, is a great New World take.

I’ve yet to try the Marsanne, but he helped make a Marsanne Beer with Floodland Brewing that was one of the best beers I tried this year.
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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#9 Post by larry schaffer » November 17th, 2018, 9:54 am

Wonderful to see someone highlighting Marsanne, a variety that I really dig both drinking and making myself. It is not surprising that the line took the twists and turns that it did in Barrel during aging. Its trajectory both in barrel and in Bottle is unlike most other white varieties. Put your seatbelt on and enjoy the ride! Can't wait to try this when I have a chance.
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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#10 Post by Steve Anderson » November 17th, 2018, 10:32 am

Paul,

The Marsanne was released at $45. The Cab Sauv was $85 and the Cab Franc $75.

As for the Kobayashi Maru reference, I did get it, but my shields were up so it was deflected toward the Delta Quadrant. neener

Cheers,

Steve
PaulMills wrote:
November 17th, 2018, 6:44 am
Chris Blum wrote:
November 17th, 2018, 5:26 am
PaulMills wrote:
November 16th, 2018, 7:54 pm
As soon as they come out with a Maru counterpart, I will buy it.
I always thought Kobayashi wines were undrinkable. That was their whole point.

(But maybe I’m just thinking of Frank Cornelissen)

champagne.gif I am glad someone understood.


The wines do sound interesting and I like the varieties he is making, I really interested in the Marsanne. What are the price points?

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#11 Post by Mark Y » November 17th, 2018, 4:18 pm

Look forward to trying them at the release party in a couple of weeks. Concur with Scott, the Marsanne beer he collab’d with floodland was awesome.
Concur with most here that he’s a good dude.
Y.e.

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#12 Post by Travis @llen » November 18th, 2018, 6:03 pm

Thanks Steve et al. for the kind words!

I know my website is devoid of any useful information. Now that harvest is over we are working on an overhaul.

Just so everyone knows...Steve Anderson is the ultimate embodiment of a Wine Berserker. I read about wine 365 days a year and love to geek out and delve into the obscurities, yet Steve always turns up with some awesome shit I've never heard of. Last time I was in San Diego he brought over a Clos Thales blanc, Sami Odi and about 6 other fun wines - awesome!

I'm having a party in Seattle on 12/1 so if anyone wants to come taste the Kobayashi lineup (including floodland collabs), this is the only time they'll all be open. You can PM or email me for the details.
travis@kobayashiwines.com
ITB

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#13 Post by Alan Eden » November 18th, 2018, 7:50 pm

This is one of the coolest things about berserkers, learning about new wines and winemakers
There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those that understand binary and those that don't

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#14 Post by Mark Y » November 18th, 2018, 9:13 pm

Travis @llen wrote:
November 18th, 2018, 6:03 pm
I'm having a party in Seattle on 12/1 so if anyone wants to come taste the Kobayashi lineup (including floodland collabs), this is the only time they'll all be open. You can PM or email me for the details.
travis@kobayashiwines.com
OR
sign up to the mailing list, and buy some wine, like the rest of us plebs! ;)

Look forward to it Travis.
Y.e.

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#15 Post by Steve Anderson » November 18th, 2018, 9:24 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
November 17th, 2018, 9:54 am
Wonderful to see someone highlighting Marsanne, a variety that I really dig both drinking and making myself. It is not surprising that the line took the twists and turns that it did in Barrel during aging. Its trajectory both in barrel and in Bottle is unlike most other white varieties. Put your seatbelt on and enjoy the ride! Can't wait to try this when I have a chance.
Larry, unless I succumb to temptation beforehand, I'll bring a bottle of the Kobayashi Marsanne to the Falltacular Friday dinner in Feb.

Cheers!

Steve

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#16 Post by Travis @llen » November 19th, 2018, 5:24 pm

Mark Y wrote:
November 18th, 2018, 9:13 pm
OR
sign up to the mailing list, and buy some wine, like the rest of us plebs! ;)
[/quote]

Yes, that is excellent advice Mark! .... but we may need help with the double-mags of 1978 Mondavi Reserve and 1978 Leoville Las Cases (from a perfect local cellar).
ITB

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#17 Post by john stimson » November 19th, 2018, 7:54 pm

I have a burgundy tasting that night. Are you trying to change my mind?

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#18 Post by Scott Tallman » January 2nd, 2019, 5:04 pm

Mark Y wrote:
November 18th, 2018, 9:13 pm
Travis @llen wrote:
November 18th, 2018, 6:03 pm
I'm having a party in Seattle on 12/1 so if anyone wants to come taste the Kobayashi lineup (including floodland collabs), this is the only time they'll all be open. You can PM or email me for the details.
travis@kobayashiwines.com
OR
sign up to the mailing list, and buy some wine, like the rest of us plebs! ;)

Look forward to it Travis.
Definitely the best wine release party I’ve attended - not only the excellent Kobayashi line-up, but double mags of 1978 Boudreaux and Napa Cab that we’re both singing, an assortment of other fun, older bottles in large formats, and a few mags of Floodland beer.
CT - WestbyGod

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#19 Post by Drew Goin » January 4th, 2019, 10:35 am

I just went to the winery website, and there's very little (NO) information about the actual wines on it.

For +$50/btl wines, I would like to know a bit more behind the winemaking philosophy...

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#20 Post by Mike Maguire » January 4th, 2019, 10:47 am

Drew Goin wrote:
January 4th, 2019, 10:35 am
I just went to the winery website, and there's very little (NO) information about the actual wines on it.

For +$50/btl wines, I would like to know a bit more behind the winemaking philosophy...
I would email Travis, he is usually very responsive

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#21 Post by Drew Goin » January 7th, 2019, 8:36 am

Mr Travis responded to my request to join the Kobayashi Wines email list with some excellent philosophical points on the art/science/craft of winemaking...


"Hi Drew,


"Thank you for signing up for the email list. I saw your post on WB. I apologize about the current website being totally unhelpful. A new website is under construction and may go from zero information to TOO MUCH information! I’ll just let you know that I started off (and still am) a wine consumer totally hungry for knowledge and new experiences. After several years of tasting and daily wine reading, I was in a seminar at Hospice du Rhone in Paso Robles and was overwhelmed by the feeling (need) create wine in Washington. There are several good producers in my state, but unfortunately there is an ocean of mediocrity and wines that have no intention or direction other than to be fermented dry and bottled stable - (both necessary - but if that is the only goal it makes for some very boring wines!). My goal is to make distinctive and delicious wines. I want my wines to speak to people and move them emotionally. I am a perpetual student, and when I taste wines I always question why I like (or dislike) and how winemaking techniques influenced the final product. I borrow ideas from wines I like, and have created a few (such as a method to do small amount of skin contact during primary fermentation for whites - doesn’t make orange wines, but gives yellow color and phenolics).

"I hope to meet you and pour our wines for you someday!


"Happy New Year! Thank you so much for your interest in our wines! Unfortunately we are completely sold out until our next release around summer of 2019. I love sharing my wine with new folks and really wish I had more to sell. I’ll add you to the email list to get information about future releases and the occasional international winemaker dinner that we host. Please know that you are in queue to get some bottles as soon as possible. In the mean time, the only event where I’m planning to pour in the upcoming year is in Seattle on 2/16/19 - the details can be found at the link below - looks like a few good wineries will be there!

http://www.washingtonwineblog.com/blog/ ... washington


"Thanks again, and please don’t hesitate to email or call if you have any questions.



*Travis Allen
travis@kobayashiwines.com
425.223.0511 "

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#22 Post by Glenn L e v i n e » January 7th, 2019, 4:57 pm

I begged but he would not sell me any!
"Never lose sight of the fact that it is just fermented grape juice" - a winemaker and negotiant in Napa Valley, CA

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#23 Post by Travis @llen » January 8th, 2019, 4:22 pm

Glenn L e v i n e wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 4:57 pm
I begged but he would not sell me any!
Jeff Ruggels has a couple bottles of the Cab franc for sale in Commerce Corner.
BTW Glenn - I’m saving a bottle of the floodland/kobayashi beer collab for next time you visit Seattle, or we meet in Oregon or Walla Walla.
ITB

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#24 Post by Siun o'Connell » January 8th, 2019, 6:49 pm

Lovely note in response to signing up - I look forward to trying these when the next batch is for sale.

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#25 Post by jeffruggels » January 9th, 2019, 12:26 pm

That post was user error in cut and paste for post from master inventory... it has been solved :)

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Re: Winemaker to Watch - Travis Allen - Kobayashi Wines

#26 Post by Brandon R » April 15th, 2019, 1:47 pm

Congratulations to you, Travis, on a series of very strong reviews from Jeb Dunnuck! Three 93s and a 94? Damn!
B. Redman

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