Monday, May 24, 2010

Review: 2006 HALL Napa Valley Merlot

Rethinking Merlot - A Winning Red Wine From A Green Winery

Rating:  Rethink Merlot.  Elegant, lovely, and infatuation-inducing.  A zero risk wine. $28



The Rest Of The Story: (Full disclosure: This wine was received as a press sample from the winery's PR firm.)  This wine, along with the Milbrandt Merlot we reviewed last month, is causing us to rethink Merlot.  Here's why...


Given a little time decanted, you're lead in by scents of expensive perfume worn on a distinguished woman of grace and elegance - caressing, gently coaxing you into love and making it an easy, guiltless journey.  Hello!

With the structure and finesse of lovely Cabernet, but with a lithe body, the HALL (why is it all in caps?) is not a big boned wine, but one with enviable depth.  The balance and composition are close to flawless and its textured finish suggests even more complexity is ahead for those with the patience to cellar.

We mistakenly had recorded the price of this wine at $40 and scratched our heads at that, only later to realize that it's actually $28.  Even for a cheap-assed wine drinker, that price tag seems reasonable for this very fine wine.  It'd be the perfect restaurant wine as it could go with almost anything thanks to its endearing genuineness and would be a risk-free crowd pleaser without breaking the bank.

If there ever was one, HALL is the quintessential green operation.  It was the first California winery to achieve LEED Gold Certification, they are in the final stages of having the last of their expansive estate vineyards certified organic, and they even use bio-diesel to fuel their farming equipment.  Clearly the natural approach is not part of a green-washing, but fundamental to their commitment to quality.  In the words of Don Munk, Director of Vineyard Operations, "One of the greatest benefits to practicing organic farming methods is that we spend more time in the vineyard.  This allows us to really pay attention to what is happening naturally."

At the end of it all, this wine left us asking a very good question - How is it possible this bottle disappeared so quickly?

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