Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Hall Has Diplomatic Approach to Wine
There has been a winery on the grounds of where Hall Wines stands in St. Helena, Calif., since 1885. By 2009, you will be able to see more of that original winery than is visible today and you will also be transported to the future as Hall will become one of the most talked about destinations in Napa Valley.
Craig and Kathryn Hall purchased the Bergfeld winery in St. Helena in 2003. In 2005 they added wine production facilities at what was the Sacrashe Vineyard in Rutherford. The Halls are on an aggressive investment path and are building a Frank Gehry designed visitor’s center and winery at the Bergfield site that will open along Route 29 in 2009. It may very well change what visitors to Napa Valley expect when they go wine tasting. The plan includes a unique wood lattice canopy and glass enclosed production area viewing. It will be a showplace that should introduce more people to some very good wines.
Craig Hall is a Texas businessman and Kathryn Hall served as the U.S. ambassador to Austria from 1997 to 2001. They have more than 500 acres of vineyards and their winemaking facility also has a substantial custom crush and private label business.
During our visit we were given a private tour by Meg Revheim, who treated us to some barrel samples in the historic winery building and a tasting of the current range of Hall wines. We found the work of winemaker Richard Batchelor to be very impressive. Among the wines we enjoyed:
Hall 2006 Hardester Ranch Merlot: From the barrel this was a jammy, fruit forward wine that shows plenty of promise.
Hall 2004 Napa Valley Merlot: Extremely smooth and inviting. Nice plum and blackberry notes.
Hall 2004 Katherine Hall Signature Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine is at least 85 percent cabernet, with merlot and cabernet franc blended in for extra complexity. Berry nose, smooth, but assertive flavor. Cabernet character is balanced with both tannin and fresh fruit evident.
Bergfeld St. Helena 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon: Still a bit tight and in need of a couple of years in the bottle, this wine does display rich ample fruit and good tannin balance.