Hill Family Estate
2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Estate Vineyard
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: The Classic Connection
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Our Operatives snapped up our previous Hill Family Estates wine in record numbers. Send Agent Red back to Return to Hill Family Estate and procure an ample allocation of their fantastic 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Hill Family Estate
Wine Subject: 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Alison Green Doran
Backgrounder: A favorite of Agent Red’s, it has been far too long since we last featured a Hill Family Estate wine. We sent Red to infiltrate the winery, this time around, to secure their flagship wine, their 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, a classic Napa Valley Cabernet with enough balance bright acidity to make it a very food-friendly wine.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Gorgeous ruby hues, with a slightly darker – but perfectly clear – heart of garnet. Swirl this wine and let it settle to marvel at its seemingly endless cascade of wine-colored legs.
Smell – Broad and lush with an initial warm rush of bold blackberry and black cherry. These are soon followed by blueberry candy-covered coffee beans, soft spice, raspberry and hint of licorice.
Feel – Soft and slightly grippy on entry, the wine starts off cool across the palate. As the finely integrated tannins take hold, the mouth drys slightly.
Taste – Absolutely delicious, with big young blackberry and cassis that are followed by flavors of dark cherry, tart red plum, soft spice, toasty oak and subtle salt (European) licorice.
Finish – The finish begins slightly dry, with dark fruit flavors that linger on for a long time. Flavors of slate and oak remain, almost forever, as do hints of the oak and salt licorice found on the palate.
Conclusion – A classic Napa Cabernet with a balanced profile that invites long and lingering sips. Our tasting panel enjoyed playing with the wine by taking sips (ok, gulps as well) of differing sizes. We all found the wine to be bold, but with enough acidity to make it an easy companion to even finer dining fare. Of course, it can be easily enjoyed all on its own. Drink now or cellar a few bottles for up to seven more years. We’ll be sure to feature more Hill Family wines in the future. It has been far too long!
The Hill Family could not be more qualified to make great wines. Since common wisdom holds that great wines are made in the vineyard, Doug Hill seems uniquely qualified, for his 25+ year wine odyssey started with him tending vineyards in the Napa Valley.
As vineyard manager for more than a thousand acres vineyards, Doug was responsible for the meticulous care of grapes for the finest wineries in the Napa Valley. His stewardship of the vines, it could be said, led to the creation of the finest of wines.
It was only natural that Doug should one day create his own wines, from his own vineyards – and that those wines should, of course, begin life in the vineyards themselves.
Today, the wines that the Hill Family Estate produces are grown in fields tended by Doug himself. Each of Hill Family’s wines show the care of the man and the character unique to each vineyard.
The Hill Family Estate wines are always outstanding wines that benefit not only from Doug’s care for his grapes, but also from the careful selection of grapes where Doug cares for his fruit.
Today’s wine is a brightly delicious wine, with great flavors and a feel that is lush, fun and very pleasing. This is a wine that conveys what commitment, beautiful vineyards, great fruit, tender care – and what the magical combination of these things taste like.
Wine Spies Winery Check:
The location of the Hill Family tasting room can be found in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The palate of this wine is a total Wow!! Lovely, ripe, full bodied and balanced. Fruit forward and very elegant, supported by strong oak tannins in the middle.
Winemaker’s Comments: Skill and experience were paramount to pull the most out of our vineyards in 2005. Late rains, fog and cool temperatures during the fall combined to make this very challenging vintage. Our Cabernet grapes finally ripened nicely, with final Brix in the high 25s and mid 26s, but it was a nail biter, with the mountain vineyards coming in on Halloween with rain just starting to fall. Color held well, and the lovely black fruit notes came out early and just needed to be preserved with gentle treatment and careful blending, backed up with judicious toasty oak.
Winemaker Alison Doran’s Tasting notes:
Nose: Deep, ripe, cassis and blackberry, intriguing black licorice and briary garrigue aromas; almost a molasses intensity of depth.
Palate: Wow! Lovely, ripe, full bodied, and balanced. Fruit forward and very elegant, supported by strong oak tannins in the middle. But the overall impression is of the rich black cherry and black berry with an evolving tapered finish.
At Hill Family Estate, we pride ourselves in having some of the best vineyards in the Napa Valley. During the past two decades, proprietor Doug Hill has managed over 1,000 acres of vines, honing the skills needed to produce quality grapes for some of the most prestigious wineries. In 2001, Doug began to select the finest grapes from the Oak Knoll, Carneros and Atlas Peak Vineyard sites for Hill Family Estate’s first crush. Today, Doug continues to manage over 750 acres in the valley, devoting his life toward growing and producing the most excellent fruit possible from the specific vineyards that he farms in the Napa Valley.
We are pleased to have Alison Green Doran as winemaker for Hill Family Estate. Her patient attitude and multitude of experience allows the best characteristics of the grapes we produce to be encapsulated in the bottle. Raised in Palos Verdes with plenty of horses and surfing, Alison was drawn into winemaking in 1973. Her father, an oil man and long time Alexander Valley vineyard owner Russell Green, had bought the Simi Winery in 1969 and brought in Andre Tchelistcheff as a consultant soon after.
By working as a harvest intern beside Andre for 6 months at Simi in 1973, Alison found both her life’s work and her mentor. Andre found her a 5 month Stagaire position in Alsace for the crush of 1975 and then an enologist position with start-up Hoffman Mountain Ranch in Paso Robles.
After finishing her Fermentation Science degree at UC Davis, she began working for the Firestone Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley in 1976. Starting as lab tech, she worked her way to bottling supervisor and then to cellar master and then in 1981, to winemaker. With the pioneering spirit of the Firestone Family, their commitment to quality and the ideal climate and soils around the vineyard, many award winning wines were made. The Firestones’ generosity and balanced life style made for a special and stable platform for understanding the long term influences of vineyard management on winemaking. Alison became well acquanited with how to pull maximum potential for wine quality from a vineyard site.
Alison married Mark Doran in 1994 and now has two young sons. She left the Firestone Vineyard in 2000, moving back to the family ranch and vineyard in Alexander Valley. She now has several select clients who want to approach site specific winemaking with exuberance and intensity.
Production: 896 cases
Composition: 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Merlot (Raucedo Clone)
Vineyards: Baker Vineyard, Beau Terre and Coombsville Vineyard
Appellation: Atlas Peak, Oak Knoll, and Napa Valley
Elevation: Baker Vineyard 1500 ft., Beau Terre 30 ft., and Coombsville 45 ft.
Cooperage: 15 months in oak barrels (40% new oak of which 20% was American)