I've written a lot recently about bargain wines, but I am able to appreciate the finer things when given the opportunity. Recently I go to attend an online tasting of Hourglass wines with the owner (Jeff Smith, son of Ned, the founder) and winemaker (Tony Biagi, formerly of Plumpjack). The winery was founded around the famous Judgment of Paris, and Time magazine author George Taber joined us.
The winery is named after the hourglass shape of Napa Valley, specifically the pinch, fractured bedrock formation where the ancient rocks get pushed outwards instead of down. Lots of discussion on fog and heat going through the valleys through this formation, adding a climatic element to the terroir. The vineyards were mostly devoted to Zinfandel, but after a Phylloxera infestation, the vines were replanted in 1991 to showcase more Bordeaux grapes. Ned's widow wanted to sell the property, but Jeff wanted to keep making great wines. It turned out to be a great decision.
We tasted half bottles, all of the prices below are for regular 750mL bottles.
2010 Hourglass Blueline Vineyard Merlot
Calistoga, Napa Valley
83% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc
$75, 16.5% abv.
Cassis and cedar, really deep aroma of dark fruit, tart, tangy flavor and finish. A really huge Merlot without being a fruit bomb. Gets smoother and yet still very rich with breathing room.
2010 Hourglass Blueline Vineyard Cabernet Franc
Calistoga, Napa Valley
94% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon
$135, 15.2% abv.
20 year old vines. Hard to grow in Napa. Pyrzine gives the herbal characteristic,
Stony and mineral, very delicate touch of the green tobacco leaf. Very mild body, light finish. Really loved this one.
2010 Hourglass Blueline Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
100% Cabernet Sauvignon (1 lot of clone 337 [France], 2 separate lots of clone 4 [California])
$125, 15.5% abv.
Notes of red cherry and licorice, flavors of plum and some more of that great mineral undertones.
2010 Hourglass Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
$155, 14.9% abv.
Wow, amazing black cherry and leather, chocolate, deep, dark wine. Very light tannins, long, supple finish. Very well structured and highly recommended if you can find it.
Note: These wines were received as samples.