By Zoltan Szabo (Words) and Jamie Drummond (Video and other gubbins)
New Kid on the Block winery, organic wannabe, in business since 2002, starting off with a mere 40 acres property, extending to 3,300 acres of land over five different appellations in Napa Valley nowadays, with 500 acres being planted at the moment.
Founder Craig Hall was the former US ambassador to Austria, back in the days of the Clinton administration. The winemaker is Steve Leveque.
Mike Reynolds, the general manager of the winery, who visited Toronto yesterday and conducted a short presentation and tasting at The Spoke Club, explained that “we are a Bordeaux house”, although he also added that there will be a Pinot Noir, coming out in May.
Reynold’s eighteen month old son, Jack, painted the label picture of ‘Jack’s Masterpiece’.
These wines are made in a state-of-the-art winemaking facility with no short cuts, for example, in addition to hand sorting, this winery uses a pricey and ultra – sophisticated optical machine to remove unripe grapes off the sorting table.
The wines are characterized by great fruit aspect, perfectly ripe and healthy grapes are used; they are fleshy and broad, yet maintaining outstanding acidity; the tannins are gently extracted and oak is judiciously used; these wines are compact and polished, with solid Napa personality.
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2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
Lime – lemon and lemon tree blossoms, with underlying soft – savoury and mineral nuances on the bouquet; medium weight with round texture, juicy acidity and integrated alcohol; great length here, with green tropical – lightly tart edge; this is a really well executed Sauvignon Blanc with no signs of greenness, nor grassy notes; unfiltered and unfined; I like it, lots, and am not even a Napa Sauvignon Blanc fan.
2008 Merlot, Napa Valley
Despite pretty bad spring frost in this vintage, this Merlot is commendably made; ripe yet not heavy, with very good freshness; raspberries, plums and cherries intermingle with Napa earth – herbs mixture and finishes with warm spices notes; elegant.
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Cassis, exotic spice, floral and licorice here, along judicious oak nuances; full and open over the palate with integrated tannins and compelling finish; short term bottle aging is recommended.
2009 ‘Kathryn Hall’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
BBB, yes, big, bold and beautiful, plush and seductive, so much going on here, cassis, chocolate, graphite; velvet – like at first, but it tightens up over the super – long and powerful finish; so good; senseless to score it.
2008 ‘Kathryn Hall’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Lighter compared to the ’09, yet remarkably well crafted and balanced, good acidity here and with brighter fruit character; supple tannins give way to long and spicy finish.
2009 ‘Jack’s Masterpiece’, Napa Valley
You must be a member of the wine club in order to be able to get this wine; full bodied with seamless structure, balance and integration; great length; at least a decade ahead of it.
My advise to you, kids, call Jason Woodman, yesterday.
Noteworthy, great lunch was served by The Spoke Club, I had the calamari salad and steak and frites; service was prompt and professional, by the beautiful Melanie and Nicole; my gratitude also goes to Mr. Drummond, for the wonderful conversation by the bar after the tasting, and the numerous palate – cleansing German lagers.
Read more of sommelier Zoltan Szabo at zoltanszabo.org and follow him at twitter.com/zoltanszabo.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… and although the Hall wines are not necessarily his style, they are well-crafted that’s for sure.