Tasting Report: 2009 HALL Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Here come the 2009 Napa Cabs.

In general, the pros are expecting 2009 to continue a string of outstanding vintages from Napa. With the exception of 2007 (which was exceptionally good) 2005-2009 are all outstanding Napa Cab vintages which elude quick bookmarking as being universally better or worse than one or another. Look for wineries whose style you enjoy and 2009 will likely satisfy.

The deal hounds among us have discovered HALL Wines' Napa Valley bottling as a reliable one worth seeking out. In the $40 range it's not cheap but it can run with the big boys costing $50-$80.

About HALL Wines

"At HALL Wines we offer an elegant and stylish approach to the wine experience that combines the art of winemaking, design and contemporary art," says owner and vintner Kathryn Hall.

In 2009 their winery in St. Helena was the first in California to receive Gold LEED Certification. In 2010 their vineyards were certified organic. Last year, their 2008 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon ($90) received a 96 point rating and landed on the number two spot on Wine Spectator's Top 100 list.

The Kathryn Hall and Napa Valley bottlings are often confused. Remember that the white labeled wines are from their Napa Valley series and cost between $38 and $50 at retail. The Kathryn Hall bottling has a red label and sells for at least $70 and up at retail. I saw a guy at Costco last year filling his shopping cart with the white labeled Napa Valley bottling whispering to me (incorrectly) that it was Wine Spectator's #2 Wine of the Year. Not that the Napa Valley isn't a fantastic bottle of wine - just a word of caution be familiar with the bottlings in their lineup.

Here's what the track record looks like for the 2009 HALL Wines Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon:

Ratings Pedigree 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Wine Advocate NR 90+ 91-93 95 88
Wine Spectator 86 94 88 91 NYR
CellarTracker 88.8 91.1 89.5 91.5 90.8
WWP 89 91 NR NR 91

The drop-off from a 95 point rating in 2008 from The Wine Advocate to an 88 point rating on the 2009 comes as the publication switched from Robert Parker to Antonio Galloni covering Napa Cabs. From this you might think Galloni doesn't like their wines - but you'd be wrong. Referring to their 2009 lineup he said:

"This is a thrilling set of wines from Hall. The estate favors a rich, extroverted style, yet all of these wines have distinct personalities and tons of sheer character. ... Simply put, I was blown away by what I tasted."

Here are my tasting notes for this wine:

2009 HALL Wines Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Varietal Composition: 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc
Barrel Aging: 16 months in 55% New French Oak
14.9% Alcohol
$48 Release Price (high $30s street target price)

100% opaque - mostly purple with ruby red in the background. Bright, high toned and fresh with lively fruit. Grippy mouth feel with cinammon and blackberries on the nose. On the palate I get coconut rum and cola. Needs time to settle down but I like what I see.

91/100 WWP: Outstanding

Look for Laube's rating (Spectator) to fall in the 90-93 range and continue a nice run for this Napa Valley bottling.

Find this wine for sale at retail on Wine-Searcher.com

Visit the HALL Wines website to learn more - they ship 6 or more bottles for just $1 and offer nice deals to club members.

Further Reading
Sample for review.

Question of the Day: Have you tried HALL Wines lately? If so, what did you think?

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