2004 Misté Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Napa Valley: Stags Leap District
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Mission Codename: Play Miste For Me, Again.
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Secure an exclusive allocation of an exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon from Harwell Vineyards
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Hartwell Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2004 Miste Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Benoit Touquette & Michel Rolland
The Stags Leap District (and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar) in Napa Valley because world renown in 1976 after the Judgment of Paris (see the movie Bottle Shock), when in a blind tasting the Cabernets from here outperformed the best from Bordeaux’s rive droite. While the folks in Rutherford and Stags Leap argue about who makes the best Cabs in Napa, us 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 – Deep and inky purple that’s thick with color. Garnet and ruby highlights appear where the light does shine through the dark core. Along the edges the color lightens slightly to burgundy then ruby. When swirled, narrowly spaced thin legs descend at varying speeds to the wine below.
Smell – Medium in intensity, but soft in character with plush ripe dark fruit, wild fennel and black licorice and toasted oak that reveals itself with hints of vanilla and caramel. As you explore the aromas you’ll also notice exotic spice and floral notes.
Feel – This dry full-bodied and rich wine is initially smooth and cool. At mid-palate a bright kick of acidity and spice along with medium firm, but fine ripe tannins coats the mouth and lingers long into the finish.
Taste – Expansive and concentrated flavors of ripe blackberry, black cherry and plum blended with flavors of baked rhubarb, toasted oak and vanilla along with a vibrant kick of exotic and baking spice gives this wine a soft and almost sentimental homemade pie quality that’s accessible, inviting and easy to enjoy (its not sweet like pie however).
Finish – The persistent mouth-coating structure supports the unabashed dense and rich fruit and other complex flavors long into the finish.
Conclusion – The 2004 Hartwell Vineyards Miste Hill Cabernet Sauvignon is a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon from a great vintage (with 18% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot for good measure) that has soft and elegant complexity along with deep and rich aromas and flavors. Easy to drink and enjoy with anything you through on the grill.
Sitting at OPS on another late night trying to catch up on some paperwork. It wasn’t mine, I was always on top of my admin duties. The long flights back and forth to the continent and other far off destinations coupled with the insomnia would never let me fall behind. It was the reports from joint missions with Agent Blush and Red where we were behind. They must have known I’d eventually do them, so they always let them slide…
It was the wee hours of the morning, and the phone rang. The strangely familiar woman’s voice on the other end simply said “Play Misty for Me”, and then the phone disconnected. I didn’t really think anything of it, until the same call came in the following night the same call and the same request, this time with a little more info:
“Play Misty for Me, My Heart-well needs it”, strange I thought… Heart-well?. Back to the paperwork.
One the third might, the same call came in, this time, the woman’s voice range out with the pitch of a woman deranged with psychosis. She added in a strangely monotone manner, “Can I spell it out any simpler for you? You’re supposed to be the smart one…”
As puzzled as I was, I started doing some research in the W.I.N.E. (Wine Internet Nexus Engine) with some of the key words. W.I.N.E. is an exceptional computer driven system that supports many of our missions with tremendous neuro-logical technology that assists us in finding the best wines. Think HAL from 2001 – A Space Odyssey, except the voice resembles an attractive woman and not a computerized man. We can thank Agent Red for that contribution.
After a few minutes, W.I.N.E., with the indicators glowing red and yellow, it finally lit up with an answer. In a voice fit for a seductress, she said “Agent White, wont you visit Hartwell Vineyards for me, get me some of the Miste Hill Cabernet, my circuits need it Agent White… Won’t you please go now? I can’t keep calling you Agent White”.
Was W.I.N.E. behind the late night calls, or had I simply lost it? Thankfully, the after a glass of the 2004 Hartwell Vineyards Miste Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, I didn’t ponder that question, the wine was too good…
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Hartwell Vineyards in Napa’s Stags Leap District can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Misté Hill is a wine that shows the softer side of the Hartwell Estate. As with all of our wines, the grapes come exclusively from our hillside estate. During the aging process, we make a selection of those barrels that show brightness of fruit, soft tannins, and approachability. The wine is blended, racked, and bottled without fining or filtration. The goal is to create a wine that can be opened and enjoyed immediately upon release.
The 2004 Misté Hill showcases the ripe, rich character of the vintage. Low yields in the vineyard, combined with warm temperatures during harvest, produced wines with richness, soft tannins, and great intensity of fruit. The wine is pure California, with notes of baked fruits, confiture, caramel and vanilla. The soft, subtle texture on the palate will appeal to those looking for immediate gratification!
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: 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot
Aging: 20 months in French oak barrels
Produced: 861 cases
Release Date: Spring 2007