Monday, December 21, 2020

Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2018 
The third white wine we opened for our Gala Family Christmas celebration wine dinner was this Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc from Hall Wine.
Sauvignon Blanc in the most natural of white varietal wines, vinified nearest to the core fruit and less adulterated than any other varietal. Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite white wines for serious wine and food pairings as well as purely simple pleasurable sipping. 
The bright fruit and crisp acidity of this label were markedly different, lighter, simpler and more focused than the two more complex Chardonnay's we opened to accompany the lobster medallions. Most folks tended to one side or the other. I preferred this. 
Straw colored, medium light bodied, bright sprites of peach predominated accented by notes of melon, subdued green apple, hints of grapefruit and wet stone with a lengthy smooth finish. 
RM 91 points. 
This was awarded 92 points by Wine Enthusiast and 91points by International Wine Review.

Walt Bob's Ranch Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2017

Walt Bob's Ranch Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2017

During our Gala Family Christmas celebration wine dinner, we opened three white wines to accompany the medallions of lobster including a Hall Sauvignon Blanc and this Walt, Bob's Ranch Chardonnay. Alec brought this bottle as part of relocating his cellar from Manhattan to Chicago. Walt is another brand and label of Hall wines, named for vintner proprietor Kathryn Walt Hall's family. Her parents Bob and Dolores Walt first purchased a vineyard in Northern California and were dedicated grape growers in Mendocino County since 1972.  

The Walts acquired more land and grew production to grow six different varietals that they sold to several notable wineries including Fetzer, Parducci and Beringer. 

Kathryn and her brother managed the family vineyard from 1982 to 1992, selling grapes to other wineries, as well as producing Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon under the WALT Vineyards label. 

The Walt family owns 63 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc in the Redwood Valley. Walt Wines produce varietal wines Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Rosé sourced from estate (family owned) vineyards in five Appellations of Sonoma County, Anderson Valley, Central Coast, Carneros and Willamette Valley in Oregon.

After her stewardship as United States Ambassador to Austria from 1997 to July 2001, Kathryn returned to America and resumed her role as proprietor of HALL Wines along with her husband Craig. Continuing her family tradition, she maintains a strong emotional attachment to vineyards, wine and the wine country. 

We were introduced to Walt wines when we tasted a Walt Pinot Noir at the Kathryn Hall Cabernet regional release tour in Chicago. That was a vineyard designated select label from Bob's Ranch vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. 

We also tasted a Walt Chardonnay that was designated Sonoma Coast, where the rear label cited Bob's Ranch Vineyard as one of the sources for the bottling, a blend from numerous sources from the area.

This Walt Chardonnay is a single vineyard designated label from the Bob’s Ranch Estate Vineyard near the Pacific Ocean in the Sonoma Coast Appellation. There the coastal breezes along with low rolling hills and morning fog define this cool climate site. Heavy fog and the strong Petaluma Wind Gap winds tempered by bright afternoon sunshine  creates a unique micro-climate within the appellation, producing a distinctive terroir for Burgundian varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 

The vineyard consists of 43 Vineyard Blocks on 72 Acres of sandy, well-draining soils in the low rolling hills along the coast. 

Winemakers notes for the 2018 release also represent this tasting, "Vibrant color with a green tinge, this wine has complex aromas of orchard fruit, toasted hazelnut, lightly toasted grain, and freshly struck flint. The palate brings layers of bright fruit coupled with a creamy texture and beautiful bright acidity. The Old Wente field selection’s naturally low yields and unique cluster shape bring and energy and concentration to the mid-palate. Perfectly balanced oak adds length and depth to the finish and tames a bit of the lively minerality inherent to this special vineyard site."


Fantesca Russian River Valley Sonoma Chardonnay 2010

Fantesca Russian River Valley Sonoma Chardonnay 2010

For our  Gala Family Christmas celebration wine dinner,  our third white that we opened for pairing with the lobster medallions was this Fantesca Russian River Valley Chardonnay. We tasted and acquired earlier releases of this label during our visits to the Fantesca Estate on Spring Mountain in Napa Valley. We visited Fantesca in 2009, 2011, and in 2007, and hosted producer Dwayne Hoff in Chicago back in 2006.

We first met producers Dwayne and Susan Hoff when they acquired the Spring Mountain property in St Helena and created Fantesca. Dwayne visited us in Chicago during one of his early promotion tours for the 2004 release of Fantesca Cabernet. We visited the winery several times during our Napa Wine Experiences. We hold a vertical collection of more than a dozen vintages of Fantesca and their Chardonnay is one of our favorites that we hold for special occasions. 

We have served or taken this label to several special dinners including: Bon Soiree Chicago French-sian Fusion Dining and Wine Experience with Ryan and Michelle, for Linda's birthday and Valentine's Day Dinner and Fantesca Chardonnay and for our getaway weekend and Goosefoot Chicago Anniversary Celebration Dinner.

This label is produced by the legendary winemaker Heidi Barrett and was her first Chardonnay project. World-renowned winemaker Heidi Barrett has been dubbed ‘the first lady of wine’ and ‘the Queen of Cult Cabernet’ by top wine critic Robert Parker. She has been honored with five 100-point scores from the major critics during her career. Heidi is well-regarded for the exceptional finesse and quality of the wines she has crafted over the years.
So, it was fitting to serve that at our gala family dinner with so many milestones and remembrances this year.  

This is sourced from fruit from the Russian River Valley AVA in Sonoma County. With its proximity to the cool northern California coast and river and associated fog, well drained soils it is ideally suited for top ranked Burgundian varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In recent decades the AVA has become one of the best in the state with its wines routinely getting top reviews and has gained considerable cachet. 
The AVA status was awarded in 1983 and today the appellation has 15,000 vineyard acres mostly planned in Chardonnay, but increasingly in Pinot Noir as well. 
Fantesca Estate & Winery Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2010
Proprietors Duane and Susan Hoff are supreme marketers and not only recruit the best talent available, but they package their product in their classic oversized etched bottles. This has the largest punt I've ever seen in a Chardonnay. 
They also seal each bottle with a 'fortune corkie', corks imprinted with quips and quotes selected from customer entrees each vintage. This bottle was no different, with a classic notable and memorable quote from legendary football coach Bud Grant, "When you reach the end zone, act like you've been there before." Of course Bud coached the Minnesota Vikings, team of Minnesota natives Duane and Susan. Gotta love it!

This classic Burgundian style chardonnay was a perfect complement to the seafood course and was stylistically centered between the other two whites.  

Crisp, clean, rich, well balanced; golden straw in color, darkening some from earlier years, aromas of classic chardonnay, more subdued than the other offerings - green apple, pear and hints of citrus lemon meringue, tropical fruit and lychee with subtle oak and a delicate crisp acidic finish. At ten years, this is likely at the end of its prime drinking window. 

RM 90 points.