Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Report from ... Lunching with Mike Reynolds of Hall Winery - March 1, 2012

If you haven't heard of Hall Winery you're probably not alone.  Hall is a fairly new winery just entering their second decade in business, but they have built up quite a name for themselves south of the border, and quite the exquisite operation.  From nothing in 2002 to two facilities (Rutherford and St. Helena) and owners of 500 acres in Napa alone; total holdings of 3300 acres in 6 appellations between Napa and Sonoma.  The pedigree of the owners is quite impressive too: Craig Hall a real estate tycoon from Ann Arbor Michigan and his wife Kathryn whose family once own a winery in Mendocino (California), she was US Ambassador to Austria from 1997-2001.  These two have turned into one of the largest land owners of California vineyards and they buy or grow fruit in all but 4 appellations - though that is about to change.

About the winery:
- First Gold LEED certified winery in California
- all wines are un-fined and un-filtered (even the whites)
- exclusively Bordeaux variety producer, they grow and make wine from all 5
- in coming years they will be getting into Pinot Noir under a different name "Walt" (Kathryn's maiden name)
- they farm organically and use natural yeast to ferment their wines
- one of the first wineries to use an optical sorter (2011)

Choice Quote from Mike Reynolds, former winemaker and now President of Hall:
"Our wines have to have a reason to exist, they can't all be the same"
(see below for quote about fruit)

The Wines ...
Hall released it's first wine into Vintages February 4, 2012 (2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, ****, now sold out) ... the following are my top three wines of the 6 we tried:

2009 Jack's Masterpiece Cabernet Sauvignon (winery only)
Tasting Notes:  full on red fruit with licorice, mocha and cherry on the nose; palate is rich and juicy with red fruit, then comes milk chocolate, spiced and peppered cherries and finishes with a mineral chalkiness (**** 1/2)
- 900 cases made ... 15.5% alcohol ... grapes come from three appellations
- this is the only wine that Mike Reynolds' makes these days, Jack is the artist who's masterpiece appears on the label, Jack is Mike's 18 month son (at time of artistry)

2009 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon (N/A)
Tasting Notes:  nose is chocolate, red berries, plum, vanilla-smoke and mocha laden; the palate is full of opulent fruit, white pepper, vanilla, chocolate, mocha, black cherry with a sweet cherry and plum wrapped in chocolate finish ... very tasty, rich and full (**** 1/2)
- fruit comes from the "Sacrashe" vineyard located in Rutherford
- we tried both the 2008 (****+) and 2009 of this wine

2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($59.95)
"We don't think of a wine being over or under oaked, we think of a wine being over or under fruited." - Mike Reynolds
Tasting Notes:  speaking of fruit this one has it in spades, lots of red fruit on the nose with just a hint of dark fruit in the background; palate is also big fruited with blackberry well seasoned with pepper and spice and a sprinkling of cocoa powder on the finish (****+)

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