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james laube's wine flights

Stunning New Napa Cabernets from Hall

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Apr 15, 2009 3:02pm ET

I can’t think of a couple who’re more bullish on Napa Valley wine – or wine anywhere in the world -- than Craig and Kathryn Hall. In a 2003 Wine Spectator interview, the billionaire couple laid out their ambitious plans and said they expected to invest perhaps $100 million on their various wine projects.

When I met with Kathryn earlier this week, one of the first questions I asked was whether she was still so bullish on wine since the global economic meltdown.

She nodded her head, yes. It’s a tough time for wine and just about every other business. But wine is a long-haul investment not a short-term profit center, so the Halls are staying the course.

Their wines (bottled under the Hall and Kathryn Hall labels) keep getting a little better with each vintage. My favorite to date was the beautifully crafted 2005 Napa Cabernet from Bergfeld Vineyard in St. Helena.

At our meeting Kathryn showed me a trio of 2006s, which are on par with, if not better than, the 2005 Bergfeld bottling. They are truly amazing. She credits both the vineyard sources and the winemaking team, headed by winemaker Steven Leveque and consultant David Ramey.

“The idea is to present the wonderful variety of Cabernet from Napa Valley,” she said. The couple now has more than 500 acres in Napa vineyard land.

The three wines are all 100 percent Cabernet, exquisitely balanced, sharply focused and appropriately distinctive.

My favorite, if ever so slightly, was the Diamond Mountain District ($100), which is rich, tight and complex, with herb, mocha-laced currant, black olive, mineral and pure earthy-graphite notes, ending with well-integrated tannins.

Jack’s Masterpiece ($70) is more elegant, supple and fleshier, with a mix of plum, black cherry, spice and cigar box. It comes from several vineyards, including the valley floor.

The Exzellenz Sacrashe Vineyard Rutherford ($150) is dense, deep, chewy and persistent, with tiers of mocha, loamy earth, currant and berry flavors, with a wonderful finish. Sacrashe comes from the Hall’s home property above Rutherford; a portion of the original vineyard is now Sloan Vineyard.

These are simply tremendous wines.

Andrew J Walter
Sacramento,CA —  April 15, 2009 8:15pm ET
but will they lower your cholesterol :)....although they will definately trim the fat out of the old wallet, thats for sure. Thanks for the heads up--if these are in any way comparable to the Rudius then I'm in
John Kmiecik
Chicago, IL —  April 16, 2009 12:11pm ET
You just love that Rudius don't ya Walter??? You are making me want to open one of my bottles.
Chris A Elerick
Orlando, FL —  April 17, 2009 9:07am ET
i opened a bottle of the rudius when i received my order. it was very good, well-structured, but probably 3-5 years from being what jeff ames meant it to be. i emailed jeff with my thoughts, and he agreed, stating that he was surprised so many people are enjoying it this early on. so i'm cellaring my other 5 bottles.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  April 17, 2009 11:54am ET
I too had to open a Rudius and while it was infanticide the experience was similar to enjoying a very young Lewis Cab. You can completely get your head around all the components and know that greatness will be there when they integrate. As for the Hall wines, I think I'll wait to see how the folks on CT rate them before I jump in.
Chris A Elerick
Orlando, FL —  April 17, 2009 9:45pm ET
Troy- I don't know about you but my bottles of rudius are taking up a ton of space in my little wine cooler. I think the international wine community should standardize the size of wine bottles. One size for Bordeaux varietals, one size for Burgundy and Rhone varietals, and one size for sparkling.

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