Friday, July 9, 2010

Hall Wines, St. Helena, CA - wine tasting



After lunch we headed to Hall Wines in St. Helena. It is a dog-friendly winery with a small and intimate tasting room and friendly staff. The Artisan Tastings are $15 for 4 wines. We started off with a pourer named Scott, and ended up with one named Todd.



The first wine we tasted was a Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2009, which was rated 91 points by Wine & Spirits. It retails for $22/bottle at the winery, and is 100% SB fermented in stainless steel.

Aroma - citrus
Taste - citrus, good acid, crisp

A nice wine overall!


The next wine we tried was also a Sauvignon Blanc - this time the Hall T Bar T Ranch SB 2009 from Alexander Valley, which retails for $24/bottle at the winery. It is a blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Viognier (Todd said that he knows for a fact that the tasting sheet on the winery website is incorrect - it lists Viognier at only 5%.)

Aroma - honeydew
Taste - tropical fruit, honeydew, light syrup

I liked this one better than the last. D liked the first one better.



The Hall Napa Valley Merlot 2006 was next. It retails for $28/bottle and was rated 93 points by Wine News. It is 100% Merlot.

Aroma - blackberries, tobacco
Taste - blackberries, tobacco, strong tannins

Weird that a Merlot has strong tannins. It's quite nice though, especially because I like healthy tannins in my wines!



We compared the Napa Valley Merlot with the Hall Napa River Ranch Merlot 2006, which retails for $50/bottle at the winery. It is a blend of 94% Merlot, 4% Malbec, and 2% Cabernet Franc.

Aroma - rich dark fruit (plums?), a little hot
Taste - dried plums, black tea, moderate tannins

Of these two Hall Merlots, I prefer the Napa Valley and D prefers the Napa River Ranch.



Now it's time for the Hall Cabernet Sauvignons, and I am excited to try them! The first one is the Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. James Laube of Wine Spectator rated this wine at 94 points. It's a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cab Franc, 3% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, and 1% Malbec and retails for $40/bottle at the winery.

Aroma - blackberries
Taste - black fruit, strong tannins

This was a nice wine.



Next we tasted Hall's T Bar T Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 single vineyard wine from Alexander Valley, which retails for $45/bottle. It's a blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Syrah.

Aroma - black fruit, oak
Taste - black fruit, black tea, strong tannins

Another good wine.



The Hall Darwin Proprietary Red 2006 was next. It's actually a blend of 74% Syrah and 26% Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, and retails for $40/bottle at the winery.

Aroma - red fruit, ink
Taste - tart red fruit, moderate tannins

This wine was okay - a bit too tart for me.



The final wine at Hall was the winery's flagship Cab, the Hall Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. It is a blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 5% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot, and retails for $75/bottle. It also was rated 92 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast.

Aroma - black fruit and pepper
Taste - black fruit and cedar

These wines are very good, especially the Cab Sauv blends. At $40 - $75/bottle, these will not be my everyday drinking wines, but they would be a nice treat and great to order by the glass at a restaurant. Interesting that the Napa Valley versions of these wines were rated higher than the Artisan wines, but that could be because the Artisan versions are made in such small quantities that the critics don't get to taste them on a regular basis.

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