[review] Kathryn and Craig Hall might have, quite possibly, the best love story of all time. He was an entrepreneur and investor—she was the US Ambassador to Austria. Both shared a love of wine and Napa Valley, and after they moved the family to Vienna where Kathryn served under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush they returned to Napa in 2002. Craig and Kathryn reignited their passion for the vineyards and wine industry and set out to make world-class Cabernet Sauvignon from some of the finest vineyard sites and appellations in Napa. It’s a love story for the ages…a love for each other and a love for the historic vineyards they harvest each year.

All great wine starts with the land. In 2005, the Halls unveiled a  state of the art winery amid the legendary Sacrashe Vineyard dedicated to making single vineyard and limited-production wines. Each HALL estate vineyard was strategically chosen for its elevation, micro-climates and soil type.

The vineyards stretch from ancient riverbeds on the valley floor to sun-drenched hilltops, encompassing more than five hundred acres of classic Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc.

Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.
– Paulo Coelho

The philosophy at HALL Wines is that the most important moment for wine comes at the time the vineyard is planted.  Everything is important in the decision making process: rootstock, variety, row and vine spacing, trellis, row direction, soil, irrigation, etc. Farming organically requires that they spend more time in the vineyard monitoring the vines and that additional care and nurturing translates to better wine.

As little manipulation as possible allows the true character of the wines to show through. HALL encourages natural fermentation (alcoholic and malolactic) which are carried out by the yeast and bacteria that are present in the vineyard.  In addition, all of the wines they produce are unfined and unfiltered.  Each of these techniques allows the wine to have more texture, richness, and depth.  The concentration of flavor is really evident in each wine, and allows the winery to stand out in a crowd.

The 2009 ‘Kathryn Hall’ Cabernet Sauvignon is HALL’s signature wine, named for founder Kathryn Hall.   It was just released to the public in September of this year, so you better stock up quick…there’s already a waiting list. The mountain fruit and extensive French Oak barrel aging lends exquisite aromas for the lucky imbiber:   dark chocolate and baking spices, freshly ground coffee beans, ripe plums, bing cherries,  and wild sage reminiscent of the high altitude vineyards above Napa.  The nose develops over time and intoxicates the senses.  If you can pull your nose away from the glass for just a minute and take the first taste, you’ll instantly recognize the dark, ripe, extracted flavors and the lasting sensation of sweet oak barrels and full bodied tannins.

This luscious wine is dense and intoxicating with a sweet, focused core. The concentration will allow it to age beautifully for at least a decade…but anything too far past that and you start to lose some of those beautiful bursts of fruit. While primarily made from Cabernet Sauvignon, the final blend is a ‘melange’ of the best grapes and wines they produce each year.  The backbone is superb Cabernet that comes from their Sacrashe Vineyard consisting of coveted volcanic ash soils.  Here, grapes achieve optimum ripeness and develop unique flavors and a silky texture that feels oh so smooth going down.

Some wines you drink, some you savor.  This is the latter.