Saturday, September 15, 2018

Kathryn Hall Vertical Tasting - Hall Wine Release Tour 2015

Kathryn Hall Vertical Tasting and Hall Wine Release Tour 2015

Kathryn Hall and the Hall Wine Club and marketing team hit the road this week to celebrate and promote the release of the flagship Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon for the 2015 vintage.  They conducted two tastings, a vertical tasting of Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 through 2015, and a tasting of select labels from the 2015 vintage release. Fellow Pour Boy, Dr Dan and me and our two Lindas attended the Chicago event held at the W Hotel, conveniently located a short walk from the office.

A highlight of the main event was the chance to meet Kathryn Hall, and to have her sign a copy of her and husband Craig's New York Times bestseller book, A Perfect Score

The book chronicles Craig and Kathryn Hall's twenty year journey from amateur winemakers to the ultimate achievement, recipients of an almost unheard-of perfect score from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

A PERFECT SCORE tells the tale of their meteoric ascendancy in Napa Valley restoring the historic St Helena winery into the site and tourist attraction it is today, the building of their Rutherford facility and the tug-of-war between Napa Valley localism and tourism. Its an enchanting tale of the Halls' account of the art, soul, and business of a modern winery.

We appreciate it when producers come to our fair city and try to support such activities. It shouldn't be surprising since Chicago was recently recognized as “best restaurant city in America” by Conde Nast Traveler. The declaration was from the magazine’s list of best restaurants in Chicago.

Hall Wines have gained great notoriety and recognition since they acquired the historic St. Helena Bergfeld Winery in 2003. That historic winery in St. Helena was once the home of the Napa Valley Co-Op, producing 40% of Napa Valley’s wines.  Today it is the site of the Hall St Helena winery and hospitality center.

Previously, in 1995, the Halls acquired the legendary Sacrashe Vineyard in the hills of Rutherford which today houses their private residence, state of the art winery and magnificent caves and tasting room.  The caves double as an art gallery. Our visits to the Hall Rutherford site have been highlights of several of our Napa Valley Wine Experiences including our trip in 2013 and again in 2017.

I enjoyed sharing with Kathryn, that we have held, (and since drinken) Sacrashe Vineyard single vineyard select Cabernet Sauvignon dating back to their early days with the 1998 vintage.

It was also an honor and privilege to be able to briefly compare notes of common acquaintances from my days in national security intelligence and Kathryn's time serving as the Honorable US Ambassador to Austria.

Today, Hall’s estate vineyards encompass more than 500 acres of classic Bordeaux varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.

The wine flight selections for the 2015 release tour were a family affair, for labels named for
Kathryn, the flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, and Walt 2015 Pinot Noir, named for Kathryn's  family maiden name, Walt.

Such release events are an important part of our wine collecting strategy since we collect specific horizontal collections in the birthyears of our kids and grandkids, as well as vertical collections of select signature labels for each of them. Indeed, these birthyear collections and our large format bottles for such were the subject of our feature when our cellar was featured in Wine Spectator in the Collector column in June of 2001.

Also served was the 2015 release of “Jack’s Masterpiece,”  an annual release of signature Cabernet Sauvignon named for Hall’s former winemaker and current President, Mike Reynolds, and the label artwork created by Mike’s then 18-month-old son Jack, as a Father’s Day gift, back in 2012.

We have fun with these wines, selecting the Sauvignon Blanc and one of the premier Cabernets for our holiday Christmas packs, with card coined, deck the Halls!

Last year, I helped source for son Alec and his leadership, the spectacular Hall Exzellence ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon for their holiday client recognition appreciation gift. 

Tonight's release tasting flight:

Hall Vineyards Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (not shown)

Hall Vineyards Napa Valley Jack's Masterpiece Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Hall Vineyards Walt 'Bob's Ranch' Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016

Hall Kathryn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Additionally, the Hall team hosted a separate, SOLD OUT vertical tasting of the classic flagship namesake Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon showcasing the vintages from 2011 through the current release 2015.

Steadfast Chicago Wine Dinner

Steadfast Chicago Wine Dinner

Kathryn Hall and the Hall Wine Club and marketing team hit the road this week with their Regional Release Tour to celebrate and promote the release of the flagship Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon for the 2015 vintage.  We attended the Chicago event held at the W Hotel, conveniently located a short walk from the office.

Before dinner we dined at Steadfast in the Kimpton Gray Hotel, another one of Chicago’s celebrated historical buildings. The gray Georgia marble dining room has been granted landmark status by the US Historical Society.

This was our first visit to this new establishment of the Fifty50 Restaurant Group that features New American cuisine in a chic, trendy upscale, chef-driven restaurant. The headliners are two noted up and coming chefs, Chris Teixeria and Ender Oktayuren.

Executive Chef Chris Teixeria was James Beard Award semifinalist in the "Rising Star Chef of the Year" competition for his work at Homestead on the the Roof in 2015.

Chef Ender trained and competed with 5-Time Olympic Medalist Chef Tim Bucci, and was Executive Chef at World of Whirlpool in Chicago and was Garde Manger Sous Chef at Sixteen in Trump Tower and Hotel when they earned their Michelin Star. 

Steadfast is located in the center of the Chicago Loop in Financial District, near the Theater District. The atmosphere is cosmopolitan, high energy, airy and light, but a bit noisy, fitting for the urban setting but not best suited for a business or intimate dinner.

Steadfast offers a carefully selected sufficiently broad winelist for the menu. As usual, we studied the list ahead of time and already had our selection pending any specials or other discoveries once on site. We were looking forward to introducing to fellow diner and 'Pour Boy' Dr Dan a wine featured and collected during our recent Seattle Culinary and Washington Wine Tour and our visit to the Long Shadows Wine Cellars

We wrote in these pages recently of our visit to Long Shadows Winery tasting room in Woodinville, WA and joining their top level wine club to ensure access to their selection of wines crafted by notable world class winemakers. Indeed we intend to share our three case allocation between son Ryan and Dr Dan.  

Hence, I was looking forward to present and showcase to Dan one of the selections, Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot, crafted by Michael Rolland, PhD and winemaker from several of the world's most exclusive wineries from Bordeaux and California. Pedestal Columbia Valley Merlot 2015 is blended w/ Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Alas, Manager and Sommelier Daphne advised us they had just sold their last bottle of Pedestal.  This forced an audible to select another wine suitable for the dinner, but not big, bold and robust so as to overshadow the upcoming tasting to come. 

Being predisposed to drink a Merlot we opted for the Ridge Monte Bello Vineayard Merlot, 2014. 

Ridge Estate Monte Bello Vineyard Merlot 2014

Ridge Monte Bello estate and vineyard sit high atop the Santa Cruz Mountains above Silicon Valley to the east and the Pacific coast just fifteen miles to the west. It lies in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, California’s coolest cabernet producing area. The Monte Bello vineyard ranges in elevation from 1300′ to 2700′ above sea level. Its distinctive terroir of soil, elevation, exposure and cool climate, produces wines that are impeccably balanced and capable for long-term aging. They are known for their firm acidity and minerality.

While not in the better known Napa or Sonoma, Monte Bello Vineyard is planted in Bordeaux varietals and the flagship Ridge Monte Bello Label, a Bordeaux Blend, has often been called America’s First Growth, as it has a long history and is one of the finest domestic examples of a classic Bordeaux blend.

This label, branded the Estate Merlot, is 100% Merlot sourced from the famed vineyard. in which cabernet sauvignon predominates.

Winemaker notes: "The 2014 reflects the driest year on record that brought significant water stress to the vineyard. After twenty-one months’ aging in American oak, this complex Merlot has developed wonderfully and will be most enjoyable over the next ten years. 

Saturated ruby color. Ripe cherry fruit, chaparral, black tea, toasted oak, and clove spice. Well-defined mountain fruit entry, rounded tannins, sweet oak, lengthy finish showing limestone character."

We found this dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, bright vibrant forward bold Cherry and Black Berry fruit flavors with sprites of clove spice and black tea, sweet oak and full rounded lingering tannins with bright acidity.

RM 91 points.

Our Entrees:

Steadfast Salmon

Steadfast Pork Chop

Steadfast Diver Scallops

Steadfast Bourimoundie