Friday, December 24, 2021

Hill Family Estate Origin Napa Valley Red 2018

Hill Family Estate Origin Napa Valley Red 2018

Label image from 2016
Alec and Vivianna joined us for a quiet Christmas eve dinner. As newlyweds they visited Hill Family Estate during their forest fire shortened honeymoon in Napa in September year before last. They visited the new estate winery, located just minutes south of Yountville just off the highway. They tasted this label there and continue to acquire it as part of their wine club allocation.

Hill Family Estate produced their first wines in 2001, a Merlot and this red blend called Origin.
Today, the Hill Family owns 120 acres of vineyards with a properties on Atlas Peak, in Carneros, Oak Knoll and American Canyon. They are 100% family-farmed, family-owned and family-operated. Production ranges between 9,000 to 12,000 cases annually sourced from 12 different estate vineyards allowing them to select the highest quality fruit for their wines. 
The Hill family began to select and plant their own vineyards in the 1980’s, using their intimate knowledge of the diversity of Napa Valley terroir - the range of microclimates, soil variations and the many subtle growing factors which influence the characteristics of the grape and the resulting quality of wine. They planted Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Albariño, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in the Carneros appellation. They planted Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon in the Oak Knoll district, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah at 1,500 feet elevation near Atlas Peak; both areas with a perfect environment to develop the rich berry flavor and intense fruit color that make these red wines some of the best in the world.
Origin is their Bordeaux blend crafted from the vineyards that Doug Hill farms in the cooler areas of southern Napa.comprising Bordeaux varietals with some Syrah, sourced from Hill Family estate vineyards - Merlot at Beau Terroir in Carneros, and Beau Terre in Oak Knoll for structure and plushy fruit, Malbec from the Baker Vineyard has become a big part of the palate structure for Origin with its big color and lower tannins while the Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon adds dignity and structure while Petit Verdot adds texture to balance the Malbec. The Syrah adds depth and color and bold fruit that complements the Merlot. 

Ironically, Alec brought and we had this same label from the 2016 vintage last year at Christmas dinner. Tonight, this was rounder, fuller and brighter with its addition of Syrah, and anchor of predominant Merlot vs. the Cabernet.
Winemaker notes: The 2018 Origin has lovely aromas of ripe plum, black cherry and vanilla. The broad entry has a big mouthful of berry jam, and the palate is full bodied and smooth, expressing the plums and cherry while adding a hint of mocha on the very drinkable finish.

According to the Red Club Winter Allocation Release Mailer accompanying the shipment, this is a blend of 37% Merlot, 29% Malbec, 16% Syrah, 13% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, all from Napa Valley Appellation. 

Dark inky blackish purple colored, full bodied, bold full round complex concentrated structured but nicely integrated and balanced to be approachable, black berry, cherry and plum fruits with spicy cigar box, and hints of dark bitter mocha chocolate on a bright tangy big lingering finish.

RM 93 points.



Venge Brown Ranch Chardonnay

Venge Brown Ranch Chardonnay - Christmas Eve Dinner Perfect Wine Food Pairing with Lobster Medallions bisque

For Christmas eve dinner, Linda prepared a delicious lobster bisque soup with medallions of lobster. I pulled from the cellar this Venge Napa Carneros Chardonnay for an accompaniment. We were joined by Alec and Vivianna for an intimate dinner.

The name Venge has been synonymous with Napa Valley wines for as long as I have been of drinking age since the '70's, but the Venge family wine affiliation actually goes back much earlier, to when Knud Venge emigrated from Denmark to the United States in the early 1900’s. Knud's son, Per Venge, entered in the wine and spirits business and started Vencom Imports, focusing on importing Western European wines and spirits. Per's son, Nils Venge, started in, then left the family business in the 1960's to study viticulture at UC Davis and set the family name in the California winegrowing community.

The Venge family planted viticultural roots in 1976 with the purchase of a 17-acre estate in the Oakville District that was planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, establishing them among the winemaking pioneers of Napa Valley.

Buddy, AJ with Nils and Kirk Venge
We met Nils and Dianna Venge on numerous occasions at Napa events and visiting the Venge Vineyards in Oakville during the nineties. We first met their son, Kirk Venge, who engaged in winemaking from an early age while they were developing the Rossini Ranch Vineyards, Winery and caves up in Calistoga. We visited Nils at the Penny Lane Family Reserve Vineyard in Oakville, then drove up to meet Kirk at the Rossini Ranch site in the eastern foothills of Palisade Mountain near Calistoga back in 2002. 

Kirk took over Venge Vineyards in 2008 and has established himself as a talented winemaker making wines in his own style. Kirk has continued the Napa Valley heritage crafting wines from select vineyard sites across Napa and Sonoma Counties worthy of bearing the Venge family name.

We've been collecting Venge wines since their earliest days. We now have fun collecting them with their notable "V" branding to enjoy with our daughter-in-law, Vivianna, as her 'signature' wines. 

Venge Vineyards Brown Ranch Vineyard Los Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay 2018 

This is a single vineyard designated label sourced from the 30 acre Brown Ranch Vineyard in Carneros, named for the previous cattle rancher owner Nadine Brown. The vineyard is bordered by HdV’s Hyde Vineyard and Beaulieu’s Vineyard No.9 on Old Sonoma Road in the Carneros district, straddling the rolling hills in the southernmost parts of both Sonoma and Napa counties. The cooling winds from the nearby San Pablo Bay, combined with the abundant midday California sunshine, create an ideal environment for producing elegant wines that combine power and finesse, with a perfect balance of crisp acidity and well-ripened fruit.

The property, formerly associated with Saintsbury Winery, was purchased in 2012 by the Renterias.

The property was planted with twenty nine acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but most of
the vines were afflicted with Eutypa, a fungi disease also known as the Dead-arm Dieback, which causes trunks or arms of the vines to essentially rot and die. Like the famous Dead-Arm Shiraz label from McLaren Vale, Australia, rather than pulling the vines out, the vineyard managers kept the rootstock, cut off the trunk just above the soil and nurtured a bud to grow into a new trunk. Like the Dead-Arm label, focusing all the mature rootstock energy into one vine branch resulted in rich, full, concentrated fruits. 

The Brown Ranch’s hillside alluvial soils, with Dijon Clone 76 set into the pre-existing rootstock, produces this rich full round Chardonnay, worthy of the iconic Venge name.

Winemaker's notes: The Dijon Clones are modern strains of Chardonnay carefully isolated from grapevine nursery blocks in France. These strains are selected for their incredible ability to produce the best of what the varietal has to offer and therefore have become quite popular with cool climate growers today. The cool and often foggy climate of the Brown Ranch Vineyard, located in central Carneros, Napa, allows for a slow growing season and optimal ripening. This climate aids in the balancing of acidity and lifting tropical aromas in the fruit and thus, in the finished wine. The vines were carefully hand harvested and delivered cool to the winery.
Winemaker's Notes: "This wine is stylish and freshly balanced, featuring a light, pale straw presence in the glass with a bouquet of fresh orange citrus, toasted pine nuts, mild allspice, rocky flints, and toasted oak. Crisp, savory pineapple, sweet delicious apple, savory stone fruit, and ripe pear lead into mouthwatering deliciousness.

The grapes are blended into used French Oak barrels according to a Burgundian style of winemaking, light handed on the usage of new French Oak keeping it to an average of 45%.

495 Cases were Produced

This release was rated 93 points by Wine Enthusiast and Jeb Dunnuck and 92 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Golden lemon colored, medium to full-bodied, full, round, concentrated, complex opulent fruits with a layer almost bordering on butterscotch, accented by notes of baking spice, hints of lemon, grapefruit, ginger and a touch of peach and almond nut cream, with bright acidity, depth and balance on a full long finish. 

RM 93 points.