The Merlot is exceedingly scrumptious, and lovely now, or I reckon for 5 or 10 years more. Full report to come wh. en I get home. Quality stuff, with true balance.
Hey folks, Paul Hawley here. I make the wines with my dad, John, and brother, Austin. Both the Cab and Merlot come from our estate vineyard (organically grown). They spent 18 months in 50% new French barrels, with racking every three months to clarify and soften the wines. Before bottling 8% Cab was blended into the Merlot and 12% Merlot into the Cab.
There are quite a few… entertaining film though. The little “Featured in Sideways” stickers on all the featured wineries really bugged me while on a Central Coast wine trip.
extra thanks to Paul for creating the Vinters Video about the Woot! offering too. love it.
If you are wondering why I’m not in the video, it’s because I’m the one behind the camera.
welcome Paul, thanks for the early involvement.
I think those folks missed the part where the Miles character was a neurotic d-bag. And his ‘Elanore’ wine is a blend of merlot and cab franc. But yeah the whole merlot hate was stupid. What’s worse though was the prevalence of sub standard pinot noir. Just saying.
I figured a video is the only way to really show what an awesome location that Cab vineyard is. Six foot terraces overlooking the whole Dry Creek Valley. The soil is weak and rocky, forcing the vines to struggle. Happy vines make lazy wines- so they say.
Stop making me want to buy more wine dangit!!
I hope my dad is ready to sign some bottles tomorrow!
Does the signature also appreciate with age?
Lab Rat Reporting in!
Bonus Lab Rat Bottle: 2004 Hawley Merlot
Forward: My Preferences - I most enjoy Bordeaux varietals (Merlot included). I also enjoy Tempranillos, Zins, and Rhones (in that order). I tend to be a fan of wines that are a bit fruitier than spicy. I like tannins but prefer them to be fine grained. I do not have a terribly sensitive palate to either oak or alcohol.
5:30 PM - Looking at the Bottle and opening it up:
Bottle fill: Mid neck, maybe a bit low, but still decent purveyance.
Upon opening: Some sediment in the neck.
Color: Rich red-garnet
Nose: Vibrant Cherry and plum, hint of aged undertones (cedar/leather)
Palate: WOW closed! SOUR CHERRY with Gripping tannins! Behind the tannins I got glimpses of aged leather and spice as well as more fruit.
THIS WINE NEEDS DECANTING!
8:15 - Almost 3 hours later when Klezman and I sat down and tasted just before dinner, the wine had started opening up.
Color - same
Nose - More muted than before. Notes of plum, ripe cherry, and very ripe blueberry possibly. These are backed by a vanilla or caramel note (must be the oak).
Palate - Plum up front with an acidity that builds into the mid palate and then gives way into aged flavors of dusty leather that then submits to the still quite large and grippy tannins.
My take - This wine does not have as much fruit as I like for a straight sipper. It has definite aged nuances which are tasty and not extreme, this wine is NOT past its prime. The tannins even at almost 3 hours in the decanter are still distractingly large.
8:30 - With Food
Mmmmmm I like this much better with food.
Greek Vegetable Salad (care of Klez) - Tomatoes, Cucumber, Red Bell pepper, Red onion, Feta, Herbs and a vinaigrette.
Pasta - Rotini Pasta with Pancetta, Sun-dried tomato, basil, Sweet Potato, Basil, and green onion in a garlic-cream sauce
French bread with Olive oil and tasty Woot Balsamic
With food (an a bit more time through our hour of dinner) This wine showed itself to be a truly fine specimen. The palate cleared up to a lovely continuum as follows:
The Flavor started with plums (just barely ripe so they still have significant acidity), continued into a wonderful dustiness, resolved through italian herbs and finished with softening but still significant tannins.
Now THAT is what I call a good wine!
Don’t be turned off by the bottle saying “Merlot” This wine drinks like a Cab.
This wine needs time
This wine likes food
But it is undeniable that this is QUALITY wine that is a steal for this price if you enjoy a slightly more austere styling to your reds.
I’ll be on for any questions throughout the day and I hope to get back to the last bit of this in the bottle before time runs out on this deal tonight.
In this age of countless chemicals, environmental disrespect, and greed, I have to support a winery that uses organic farming practices. Hence, in for one!
OK, so rattage again! Due to a 50% wrong guess as to which wine was coming first, I drank this starting last Thursday night! What an early treat… and due to its length and to save your poor eyes I shall post the next night’s follow up rattage in the morning!
Hawley Merlot 04
As of the end fo writing this I’m definitely a little squiffy. nice wine, you see…
I’m not going to do a long report here, (EDIT: this may not be accurate, in hindsight) because my new (old) Jeep crapped out on me on the 5 this evening, in between the first sniff of the 2004 Hawley Merlot, and being able to try it again.
So, throws a sediment. Decant, but not too much of a sediment, and stuck to the bottom, so when you decant just don’t pour the last few ml. not necessary to stand up for 24 hours as you might an older Cab.
So, I decanted it, and first sniff, mmm, dusty. Indeed one of my friends K, said “a bit like an old attic”. Tried it after abot 10 mins of decanting, with unsalted pistachios. Good, sharp, clean red fruit. A clean attack on the palate. Some spiciness, and a decent mouthwatering acidity. Nice length too. small taste, as I’m about to go driving. Some legs, but not too much. Not amaing, but then it’s only been open 15 mins.
So, pour it back into the bottle, and an hour and a 10-20mph freeway journey later, I open and decant again it in comparison with a simultaneously-opened-and-decanted Pine Ridge Napa Valley Merlot 06, from a 2010 woot. Still the fine nose on the Hawley. Eating it with cold roast chicken. K, who doesn’t like Merlot says it does have that Merlot taste, the spice, and then it goes away. I disagree a bit, as I taste the red fruit and nice sharp acid (not very malic, fresher). Also, it tastes like a proper Merlot, not that bland crap you usually get in California. This is a proper wine, with good acidity, but good fruit, that the frogs would like, as long as you didn’t tell them it was made by les Américains!
The Pine Ridge opens up after an hour. It’s too harsh at first, and you can taste the oak in it, both fresh hard oak, and softened integrated sweet oak tannins later. A decent amount of red fruits, and a heavy aspect: not a subtle Merlot, but big and fun, a bit like a medium-aged Rioja. Very Very long finish, of the sweet aged oak sort. I actually quite like that as it reminds me of aged heavily-oaked Tempranillo, Spanish style.
The Hawley is definitely lighter, and more subtle, and my friends - none of them connoisseurs, but who like “nice wine” - UNANIMOUSLY preferred it! The fruit reminds me of Wellington Zin fruit (wish I’d decided to get that Wellington Merlot out of storae this afternoon, but we’ll have to make do with Pine Ridge! Anyway, I think the Wellington 06 needs a couple of more years cellaring: the Hawley and the Wellington are probably quite similar.) So, Love the fruit, great acid baklbone, definite oak, but integrated and not as overpowering as the Pine Ridge. Very good indeed. Indeed, given the structure, this is a Merlot which might actually last longer and benefit from ageing to secondary flavours, like a good old St Emilion. I wonder if this is 100% Merlot. It certainly tastes of Merlot, but it’s delightfully-made. Light, and no deep Cabernet, but it has fruit, acid, present, but refined oak. Ah, I see from the label it’s 8% Cab. Neat… probably helped with it soft but structured nature.
It has the ability to pair with decent meats. Tried with salami also, and that brings out the deep dark red fruits in it. Cold deli-counter beef: also brings out the fresh vibrant redness and acidity and fruit. Yum. Then the beef tastes better afterwards, which is a hallmark of good, natural acidity. Chicken, works perfectly. Tannins are a little more present, fruits always deep red and singing loudly, and the acid keeps it lively. Ok let’s try some cheese, Gromit. Fancy some Brie? Mmm, goes with cheese too. Let’s take it to the moon.
I think this may age well for another 10 years and be rather wonderful, if the still-vibrant fruit softens to secondary aged flavours. It has spice, but it doesn’t seem to be the alcohol spice of some wines, but rather from the subtle, integrated oak tannins the acid and still open, fresh present fruit.
Highly-recommended. Tastes of Merlot, but that’s not a bad thing. Open red fruit. Light-claret, as it were, not reliant on high alcohol, balanced, and you can drink it now, as the tannins integrate, or hold it and see if it ends up like a classic Bordeaux. Tastes as if it might be slightly higher in alcohol than a true classic (% is not on the bottle so at writing time I don’t know) , but that may not matter. It’s a lot more complex on the palate than the Pine Ridge, which is fun, sassy, full of fruit but a little oaky to be truly poised. By prefernce I kept on gong back to the Hawley. More poise, not bigger red fruit, but more poised.
Buy, and drink, and cellar some.
Tomorrow I’ll try it, 12 or 24-hours after opening. And probably try to clean up this rather tipsy prose.
Assistant Lab Rat reporting as promised!
After getting his bonus second bottle with his Golden Ticket, cmaldoon invited me to join in dissecting tonight’s bottle of 2004 Hawley Merlot. As you can tell, I liked it enough to be annoyed at not getting first sucker
I want this to be as helpful to as many people as possible, so I’ll start out with my own preferences. First off, my tastes vary widely and I enjoy wines from most of the spectrum so long as they are well made. In my cellar you will find Corison, Wellington, Ty Caton, and Twisted Oak as the dominant names, along with a good bit of Scott Harvey. I mainly look for two things in wine: enough acid to balance out anything else and give the flavours a whole lot of life, and a level of complexity that warrants the asking price for a given bottle. To make that a little more concrete, my favourite woot-related wines have been: Corison, Twisted Oak Parcel 17 and PS, Wellington Victory, Scott Harvey 1869 Zin and Reserve Barbera, Buttonwood Cab Franc, Iron Horse Chard and Pinot, Keating Malbec, and VJB Barbera. Two non-woots that I also think are excellent and relevant: Woodside Vineyards King’s Mountain Cabernet and Ridge Monte Bello. Hope that helps.
Now on to the wine! I arrived in time for dinner, but not for the pop and pour - my first taste of the wine was around 7:45pm after it had been open for approximately 2 hours. My only real warning for what to expect was that on pop/pour it was a tannin monster. I gave it a quick swirl and a sniff and I immediately know this is the sort of wine I am going to enjoy. Notes from the first round of deliberate evaluation:
Colour: blue-ish purple throughout, crystal clear (the decanting did a great job of trapping sediment), and bled to red and then colourless at the edge.
Swirling revealed a viscous wine, with legs taking almost 10 seconds to develop at all.
Nose: Initially subtle, the first aromas I got were of earth and spice all wrapped up in an unidentifiable robe of sweetish fruit. I immediately know it’s a wine with such depth that I would happily sniff it all night. Further investigation and thought and lots of sniffing later (who knew sniffing all that glue would come in handy?) I was able to pick out cherry and vanilla - almost like cherry vanilla sauce for duck or yogurt. Then I thought, maybe, just maybe, the sweet robe of fruit was very ripe blueberry tending to maybe even overripe. Also got the notion that the sweet smell might be caramel, and therefore a byproduct of the oaking. A little more swirling and sniffing and I finally get one of the other components - mint! Normally I get eucalyptus in a wine long before I get mint, but this is one of the rare ones where I just thought it was mint - pleasantly so.
First taste: Finally! On to the tasting part of the tasting! By now it’s probably 2h15 since decanting. My first impression on entry was a bit of fruit and a lot of earthy, leathery goodness. Then the tannins started to coat my tongue and for a 2+ hour decant I was shocked at their power and graininess. My notes actually say they “coated my tongue in a no-nonsense sort of way”. The finish evolved from a general herbaceous sense to herbs and then to spice. And it did this over the span of at least 30 seconds. Surprisingly, for a wine of this depth and tannin level it was quite light in body.
First set of tastes with food, around 8:20pm, 2h35 post decant. Dinner was Greek salad and pasta with a cream sauce, pancetta, sweet potato, sundried tomatoes, and basil. Without thinking about flavour combinations I just ate some food and then tried the wine. Initially all I get is the acid. I wonder why, so I go about this a little more purposefully. The Greek salad seems to bring out more green bell pepper sorts of flavours to me while the pasta tends to leave this wine more chameleon-like, although it did reveal some plum to me at this point. The sweet potato seemed to mute most of the fruit flavours, leaving only the acid and not terribly pleasant.
I was wishing for a steak around then, but who’d have guessed for a 7 year old Merlot that it would still stand up to something like that? I was expecting a wine at/near the brink of exhaustion. A wine that would come with a warning to drink within 6 months or you’d just be disappointed. Not so! I think this wine has 5 years left in it, easy. Maybe even more.
Another set of notes from 9:10pm, nearly 3.5 hours post-decant. At this point I find the fruit is fading somewhat, but nowhere near as fast as the tannins are polymerizing and getting smoother. I think the wine just keeps on getting better - or certainly not getting any worse. The herb characters are front and centre at this point, and at some point I recall mentioning rosemary as a flavour component.
Overall, I was delighted to have the chance to taste this, and I thank cmaldoon for sharing his Golden Ticket with me and WD/Ali/PowersThatBe for sending this particular bottle his way. Without having tasted it, I would almost certainly not have gone in. I was second sucker this time
The other strange thing about this wine was that if it had been presented to me blind, I probably would have first guessed it was a classically-styled Rutherford Cab, say from the Kronos Vineyard and it’s environs. The dusty/earthy flavour in this wine made me think of 14 year old Burgess or Heitz Cab or the bottle of 1989 Corison I opened for my birthday this year. Not so similar that I’d think it was one of those, but similar enough to make me do a double take. Certainly not your average Dry Creek Merlot/Bdx blend.
Interesting side note: cmaldoon also opened a bottle of Rosemount Balmoral Syrah, also from 2004. The wines could not have been more different. Where the Hawley was subtle and full of flavours and aromas to decipher, the Rosemount was big and in your face with fruit and oak. The comment that won was that the wines are polar opposites. So if you’re a big fan of the fruit/oak-bomb or mega-fruit style (Kyle, I’m looking at you here) this may not be for you. If you are a fan of the more restrained, complex, beverage that will go with food (almost demands it) then this is your wine.
I have heard a few excellent winemakers say the same thing!
So, the Cab has an excellent pH of about 3.4. Is the Merlot in the same range? It certainly tastes like it, which is a wonderful thing, given it’s not austere either!
I have been a wine club member for almost 2 years. This family is awesome! They are all extremely talented outside of wine as well. Very down to earth. If you have Netflix you can stream “Corked”, which is a mockumentary written and directed by Paul. There are also some great videos on the website.
I have not seen these wines for sale at winery events or on there website. This is a good chance to fill in some vintage gaps that I have. Loved the 2003 merlot, but have not cracked any of my older cabs yet. Needless to say I’m in. Kind of bittersweet because now the secret of Hawley is out!
So…does anybody actually care that one of the bottles is autographed?
I do, autographed bottles make a great gift.