I recently had an opportunity to participate in Hourglass Winery’s first ever live virtual tasting with the good folks at Charles Communications and several of my fellow wine bloggers. This online, interactive tasting was led by proprietor Jeff Smith and winemaker Tony Biagi, formerly of Plumpjack Winery. Named for its position at the narrowest part of Napa Valley's unique hourglass figure, the six acre St. Helena vineyard was originally planted to Zinfandel by Jeff’s father Ned Smith in the mid 1970's. When Jeff took over the hillside site in 1990, the vines were in need of replanting. A prominent UC Davis soil specialists evaluated the six acre parcel and deemed it an ideal site (soil -- formed from volcanic rock, climate, hillside – better drainage, etc.) for growing high quality Cabernet Sauvignon. With Hourglass Winery’s inaugural release in 1997, the winery achieved cult status. With an awesome grand-opening under their belt
Seeking a site to produce wines of comparable quality to the original Hourglass Vineyard; in 2006, and with a good amount of searching, Jeff purchased a Calistoga property. The 20 acre vineyard, named Blueline, for the two streams that form its boundaries, is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.
For this tasting, we an opportunity to sample several current releases (all 2010 vintage). All of these wines are seriously good, though the Merlot is not for the faint of heart – but albeit tasty. These wine are limited-production and may be difficult to find. If you happen to come across this label, I recommend savoring the experience. Click here to learn more about Hourglass Winery and please see my tasting notes below.
1) Hourglass Blueline Vineyard 2010 Cabernet Franc (SRP $135): Composed of 94% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Petit Verdot, this wine displays a deep garnet color with rich aromas of black cherries, plum, black currant, and sweet spice notes with delicate dried herb undertones and shades of Cabernet Franc’s distinct (and pretty) violet scent. On the sip, it’s round and mouth-coating with a core of dark layered fruit, a [fairly] big, but well-structured body, moderately firm and chewy tannins, and a lengthy fruit-driven finish. 5 Words about this Cabernet Franc: Voluptuous, Ripe, Bold, Balanced, and Youthful.
2) Hourglass Blueline Vineyard 2010 Merlot (SRP $75): Deeply colored, full-bodied, and opulent wine on a sizable frame with a firm structure and tannic backbone. Big and balanced -- it pulls off an Olympian-like balancing act at 16.5% ABV with layers of [chewy] dark and (to a much lesser degree) red fruit flavors, bittersweet chocolate, and a wisp of minerality on the lingering finish. 5 Words about this Merlot: Intense, Briary, Chewy, Muscular, Legs-4-Days.
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