Hall Rutherford (Napa)

Hall Rutherford was another Lexus tasting (we had three set up: Merryvale, Hall Rutherford, and Silverado). We got there slightly late, because we first went to Hall Winery in Napa. Similar, but totally different location. It also seemed like every time Hall Rutherford called us to give directions, we were driving and navigating and couldn’t take notes.

For this winery, I left the camera in the car and had every intention of going back for it. But by the time this was over, it was pretty clear they were done with their presentations and were happy to see us all go.

We tasted four wines, and the setup was the way I like it, all of them in seperate glasses in front of us, pens and tasting sheets at the ready. Later at Phelps winery we met some Hall (not Rutherford) people and they wondered how we got to go to Hall Rutherford, as it was rare to get invited. Gosh, we felt so special!

One thing that was interesting during this tasting is that Anna and I noticed the flavors of the wines really changed as time went on. And sometimes the same wine seemed different in each of our glasses.

The sales pressure, however, was a little odd. We didn’t want to join a wine club, and we were at a disadvantage being able to surreptitiously search wine prices online since we were in a cave with no reception. Shucks.

What scared me about this place is that they said it doesn’t matter who the winemaker is for their wines, the wines will make themselves. Oh, really? Maybe I can get a job here, I know very little about winemaking. Just about every vineyard besides this one prided themselves on their winemaker or team.

If you ever are special enough to get here, do so just for the art. Jack Hall is a collector of art and there is installation art everywhere here. In fact some large art movers were onsite figuring out how to get the next piece up there. Their residence is up the hill so these caves must be a perfect tax writeoff!

This place is just up the road from l’Auberge du Soleil, a great hotel with a super deck to have drinks and look out over Rutherford. Their wine list is a book to behold.

2010 Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, $22. This was handed to us as we arrived. It didn’t really stand out, but I remember some grapefruit in there. It wasn’t my favorite Sauv Blanc.

2005 Hall “Kathryn Hall” Cabernet Sauvignon, $100. Spicy, dense, and smooth. Anna got a strong licorice note that was a first for her in Napa. I got some leather, smooth oak, and an incredibly concentrated nose. It had good acidity, a long finish, but it was slightly hot.

2007 Hall “Bergfeld” Cabernet Sauvignon, $100. This comes from grapes in the valley floor, with 10% Merlot. The nose seemed to have cassis, mint, less leather than the Kathryn Hall, slight oak, cigar, and cinnamon. Wow, that’s a lot. It had slight acidity and was an inky black purple. Anna though this one was very good, and lighter and more ready to drink now.

2007 Hall “Exzellenz” Sacrashe Vineyard Red Wine, $165. This seemed a little hot to me, but it had an extremely long tannin finish, with flavors of anise, dirt, and jam. Anna was trying to decide if this was better than Opus One. She got a lot of complexity from Opus One. I am going to tell her now that it wasn’t as good as Opus One for a simple reason. My feeling is that if the wine has been open for a while (which they were), any sense of an alcoholic smell means something is not in balance. Either it needs more time to age or it needs more aromatics or it needs less alcohol. I didn’t get the sense that Opus One was hot. We both got it from this one. Therefore, I wouldn’t pay $165 for it.

2006 Hall Merlot, $28. Brickish red, with a nose of popcorn, pepper, blackberry jam. There was some sweetness with a medium to long finish. Anna got that hot alcoholic nose. She thought the taste is far superior to the nose, and it was thick with complex layers. She thought it was a bargain at $28.

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One Response to Hall Rutherford (Napa)

  1. I picked up a bottle of Kathryn Hall from this visit, and three months later I had it on my birthday. Was it worth the price? It would certainly be a good buy at $65, but it fell a bit short for the full price.

    Deep ruby, almost purplish in color. This wine is a mile wide and a foot deep. It doesn’t have a long finish, but it makes up for it in complexity and density. Some oak, tobacco, leather, dark concentrated fruit on nose. Palate matches with good acidity, good fruit concentration, cassis, some mocha or cocoa, slight bitterness towards end of finish, and occasionally a strong spike of black licorice. It doesn’t have a very long finish, and is tannic, but the palate and nose are well matched. It’s a ten to twenty second flavor bomb, quite drinkable but has the bones for more bottle time, probably 5-10 yrs.

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