2007 Misté Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Napa Valley: Stags Leap District
What We Say
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Mission Codename: The Stupendous
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Hartwell Vineyards and secure an exclusive allocation of their exceptional 2007 Miste Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Hartwell Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2007 Miste Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Benoit Touquette & Michel Rolland
Backgrounder: Hartwell Vineyards is one of our favorite wineries. Their wines are always extraordinary. So, too, are the people that work so hard to craft some of the most unique wines to come from the Stags Leap District. Today’s wine comes from the only steep hillside vineyard in the district, which is mostly valley floor. Today’s 2007 Miste Hill Cabernet is an extraordinary wine, from an extraordinary vineyard, crafted by extraordinary people. Please do not miss this unique opportunity to sample one of the finest Cabs from the 2007 vintage.
The Stags Leap District in the Napa Valley became world renown in 1976 after the Judgement of Paris when, in a blind tasting, the Cabernets from Stags Leap outperformed the best from Bordeaux’s rive droite. While the folks in Rutherford and Stags Leap may argue about who makes the best Cabs in Napa, we Wine Spies are the ultimate beneficiaries – as we get to enjoy vintage after vintage, each often times better than the preceding.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest ruby hues from rim to center, the wine has a deepening, almost inky core. When swirled, the wine appears dense and weighty. After swirling, tall, skinny, wine-stained tears move steadily down the glass. We also noted a fine grit left on the inside of the glass, illustrating the natural side of Hartwell’s winemaking.
Smell – Heady and very lush, with deeply aromatic ripe red cherry, blackberry, black cherry and dark plum. These sit atop leather, dried violets, softly burnt caramel, vanilla and a hint of anise.
Feel – Soft and velvet smooth across the entry. Then, very gradually, supple tannins take hold, giving the wine a rich, elegant, mouth-coating fullness. The balanced acids sustain the fruit through to the long finish.
Taste – Wonderfully balanced, with brightly dark fruit balanced against earthen flavors. Bold red cherry, cassis and cranberry – which deliver bright fruit-notes – are joined by dark blackberry, plum and a hint of blueberry. These are followed, closely, by bramble, soft spice, dried fall leaves, spice and subtle dark chocolate.
Finish – Very elegant and ultra-long, this wine leads with sustained black fruit that yields to its earthen character. The spice and dark chocolate at the end are soft and long-lasting. At the tail end, a soft dryness spreads all around the palate.
Conclusion – This wine reinforces our belief that Cab is King, among California reds. If you love bold but balanced wines with tons of flavor and character, then this is a wine for you. Driven by dark fruit, the soft feel of the wine adds elegance. This is a lovely juxtaposition that all of your senses will enjoy. The wine is big and flavorful, to be sure, but its softer side holds everything in check. This wine is wonderful solo-sipper, but please pair it with your favorite hearty meal. It has the acidity to hold up against anything, and the refinement to not overpower it. Enjoy now, but please lay a few bottles down for the next several years. We know that this wine will continue to progress and improve. Most of all, do not miss out on this stunning Napa Cabernet!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Benoit Touquette
WINE EDUCATION: Master Science Degree of Enology University Bordeaux
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Worked as assistant to Andy Erickson 04 – 07 ,Winemaker at Hartwell since then
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: to craft wine that expresses the specific characteristics of the terroir and fruit from the vines
WINEMAKER QUOTE: Life is to share….wine too….
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 2006
AGENT RED: Greetings, Benoit. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Estate Sauvignon Blanc today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BENOIT: My pleasure!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
BENOIT: I have been fortunate to work with great people such as Michel Rolland, Andy Erickson etc… and fortunate to work in many parts of the world, Napa Valley, France and South Africa
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BENOIT: Michel Rolland; with no question.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
BENOIT: I would say myself being a bit selfish but in the end hopefully the consumer will like the wine we produce
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BENOIT: Today you are showcasing our 2007 Estate Miste Hill Cabernet Sauvignon. This is our main production Cabernet sourced from vines throughout our Estate vineyard in the Stags Leap District. I always aim to make this wine very approachable in its youth with rich and forward fruit flavors while still maintaining some of the terroir notes that are unique to our hillside location so that the wine will continue to develop nuance with bottle age.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BENOIT: I am a true fan of pairing a delicious ripe Cabernet Sauvignon with a good cut of beef (filet mignon, make it rare please, with a wine sauce reduction, some freedom fries dipped in a little bit of mayonnaise (excuse my french!!!) will work extremely well). Sometime you realize less is more when it comes to the best food and wine pairings.
RED: That’s very European! In your opinion, what makes the Stags Leap District and the Napa Valley so special?
BENOIT: It is a true combination of factors, let me explain; on a purely viticultural aspect, Napa is special due to the unique geology, topography and climatology conditions that we find here. Napa Valley is probably the region where you will find the most diverse types of soils, with a unique topography. The valley is very narrow (couple of miles wide) unfolding in a south/north axis in between two mountain ranges that can get up to 2000 feet elevation. You will also be very surprised to see the influence of the varied Napa micro-climates on growing grapes; what a difference between an appellation like Carneros and Calistoga where the average temperature during the growing season can range up to a difference of 25 degrees Fahrenheit over the 25 miles between them!!!! Our Estate Vineyard sits right in the heart of the Stags Leap District just south of the middle of that range. We get warm days (not too hot) followed by cooling breezes off the bay in the evening hours. It can’t be beat as a location to grow ideal Bordeaux varietals.
Another important factor, that people never really think about is “the quality of life.” There is an unbelievable culture of food and wine here…! Imagine in such a little place, so many fantastic restaurants alongside the best American vineyards and wines…. not too bad, no?
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BENOIT: Right now we are getting ready to bottle the 2009 wines: our two dynamite Cabernet Sauvignon releases and our ultra-seductive Merlot. We will bottle what could be the best wines we have ever produced, so that is really exciting. We have been fortunate to enjoy several great vintages in a row… Thank you Mother Nature!
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
BENOIT: It is always good to let the wines breath (young or old) thru a decanting process. Always pay attention to the pour temperature if you want to get the best from the wine you are drinking.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
BENOIT: Just have fun discovering, tasting and sharing new wines with friends and family…be fearless and adventuress.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. We absolutely adore your wines!
BENOIT: Merci, et mon plaisir!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Hartwell Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
One of the greatest vintages for Bordeaux varietals in Napa Valley, 2007 began relatively early, with bud break starting the third week in March. Vine growth was well-balanced, with low vigor and small to medium-sized berries and clusters.
During veraison in mid-July, we thinned fruit aggressively for smaller yields with greater concentration. By October, our Cabernet Sauvignon was ready for harvest, with rich flavors and full ripeness.
Hartwell Estate 2007 Misté Hill Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits attractive raspberry, grenadine and blueberry fruit with coffee and caramel notes. On the palate, the wine is generous, with sweet tannins and pure varietal character. This seamless wine is ready to enjoy now and will continue to evolve beautifully over the next decade.
About The Winery:
Bob Hartwell’s passion for wine stems from his decades as an avid collector. Bob, a fourth generation Californian, has over thirty years of success in the aerospace and plumbing industries. As a successful manufacturer of quality products, Bob has never been a stranger to striving for quality over quantity at any cost. He has always known that the best quality materials result in the best quality products.
Bob’s obsession with producing the best didn’t stop at the manufacturing plant. Bob knew that fulfilling the dream of owning his own vineyard meant finding the best place to grow the best Cabernet Sauvignon. With the help of a respected wine consultant, he found the property he had been searching for. The unplanted hillside in the Stag’s Leap District, now Hartwell Estate, was the birthplace of his dream.
Dick Grace shared his Bouche Clone from Grace Family Vineyards, and collaborated with Bob on Hartwell’s very first production. In 1990 after 22 months in new French oak barrels, the wine, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, was released with explosive success. This established the tradition of quality and style that continues to distinguish Hartwell wines.
In addition to making great wine, Blanca and Bob Hartwell are dedicated to the tradition of charitable giving. Their ongoing philanthropic efforts are instrumental to organizations that improve the lives of children.
Benoit Touquette, Winemaker – Benoit holds a Masters degree of Enology and Chemistry from the University of Bordeaux. He has worked at several Bordeaux wineries including Chateau La Louviere and Chateau Couhins-Lurton. Early in his career Benoit made wine for Michel Rolland, “The Flying Winemaker,” in South Africa at Remhoogte Estate. Benoit is a star on the rise in the wine world and is devoted to continuing the Hartwell tradition of producing wines of distinction and acclaim.
Consulting Winemaker, Michel Rolland – Considered the world’s most influential winemaker and a graduate of the prestigious Bordeaux Faculty of Oenology, Michel Rolland has joined Hartwell Vineyards as a consulting winemaker.
Appellation: Stag’s Leap District
Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, Hartwell Estate Vineyards, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley
Aging: 18 months in 100% new French oak barrels
Produced: 975 cases
Release Date: Spring 2010