Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hall Winery, November 2, 2012

Winery - 6 / Wines - 5
Range:  1 to 9 (9 is best, 5 is average)
Casual woodwork, interesting glass mobiles on ceiling.  Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc.

My friend recommended visiting Hall Winery.  I had visited about four years ago for the first time and tasted their 2004 wines and was a little disappointed (they lacked the special quality that many 2004’s possessed).  Since then, Hall has received three years of accolades, including a 96 point award for their 2006 Cabernet (which I tasted, and have to admit was impressive, especially for the vintage).  So, it was with mixed emotions that I headed for Hall Winery.  Perhaps they have changed wine makers since my last visit, or perhaps they were dealt off-quality grapes in 2004.  I recall during my last visit that there was quite a bit of construction underway, so I was eager to see what had changed.

Lush entrance to Hall Winery.
Driving into Hall Winery at the south end of St. Helena, I noticed that the biggest changes seemed to be to the parking area and surrounding patios.  All of these changes make the entrance to the winery seem new, although on closer inspection it is simply better accented by its landscaping.  The new entrance is lush with greenery, including a stone wall covered in climbing vines and flanked by shrubbery.  Walking through the glass doors, the wood-clad interior welcomes you.  The warmth of the woodwork sets a casual tone that makes for a more relaxed tasting experience.  The tasting room is ample and easily accommodates 20 or more people.  Outside the tasting room is a large patio area fitted neatly with several long tasting tables.  In the spring and autumn, these tables would be ideal for enjoying a sampling of their wines in the warm air of the valley.  The main purpose of the outdoor tasting area seems to be for winery events, though I did not confirm this with the winery.  My favorite feature of the winery is the collection of mobiles hanging from the tasting room ceiling, each suspending giant teardrops of red glass. 

The tasting room at Hall Winery.

My tasting experience began with a familiar face – my pourer worked at St. Clement Winery while I was a wine-club member there.  It is nice to meet a familiar face while visiting Napa Valley.  The tasting flight allows a small amount of flexibility, and I tasted the 2008 Merlot, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2009 Syrah blend, and the 2009 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon, which was my favorite.  The Syrah had a meaty nose to it, for those interested in those varietal nuances.  Overall, the wines from this vintage seem to lack the wow factor from the 2006 Hall Cabernet.

Based on this experience, I would rate the winery as a 6 and the wines offered as a 5.  This is consistent with my prior visit.

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