Hawley Winery Dry Creek Valley Red - 3 Pack (One Autographed bottle)

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 :slight_smile:

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 :slight_smile:

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.

Can some body tell me why mill always wants to be first sucker?
What happens when your first?

Rattage, DAY 2
(or Part Deux)
24 hours later, Friday night. On a dry mouth, it’s sharp, with red fruit. Hmm, too acid, needs food. Aha, pistachios!
crack, munch munch. crack munch. oops, no Withnail, you can’t eat that, it’s a shell. I’ll feed you later.
Mmmm, nuts.
So, let’s hav a sip. Wait… that divine, lovely dusty nose again. Reminds me of that 09 Wellington Merlot we blended for the Victory on the rpm 2010 tour. Sniff sniff. Munch munch. Mmmmm. Holding off on sipping for the pure pleasure of the nose. And pistachios of course (Thanks, Mr Joe the Trader).
Ok, time for a si… mmmmm, dusty nose with hints of red loveliness. Mmmm. Ahhhhh. Don’t really want to start dirnking, as I lose my nose after a bit, and this has just so much olfactory omnipotence. A nasal nirvana, a wonder of whiffs, a perfect pong.

on the palate, mmm, sharp, red, acid! Perhaps thinner than yesterday, but still decent length, and this deep red cranberry and tart strawberry thing, with some toher nice red things like loganberry. And dust… I taste the dust! That lingers along with the red sharpness. Almost mineral, almost! Sweet softened tannins comign in the mid-late palate, sweetening the end, counterpointing the sharp entrance! medoim long redness fading to dust.
Second sip-set (refill) Mmmm, still depth to the fruit abov the acid and dust. Zings the tongue with nice acidity, so fresh! medium length, yes, ending as I said.

OK, time to try it after a TJ’s chicken quesadilla. Yes, mild j-pepper spice! Nice herbs, gnetle cheese and a little tongue zing. Wow, it brings out some spiciness in the MErlot, or perhaps the acid just piques my jalapeno-primed tastebuds. Still the fruit, brings it out more heavily, more rounded. Although the drink now seems less subtle, I think you get more round fruit, and taste the alcohol a little more also. Or that’s just the jalapeno perhaps!
Works, though not perhaps the best use of the wine! I’l keep some for later and some other funny foods.

EDIT: never got round to more funny foods. It was too good. I did try he last half-glass it on the fourth day, and it was still very good! As I thought, and it bodes well for further ageing.

Not bad this wine, at all, epecially for a 7-year-old Merlot opened a day. Translation for you lot: In England that’s praise indeed! I just bought some.

This offering is so tempting! But the price is going to keep me on the sidelines. If the discount was a bit deeper, I would have jumped in.

That is really too bad… I was thinking the same thing, but just reflected back on what I drank last night, figured out my per bottle price if I split 2 orders with Klez ($19.50) And damn that’s a great price for the quality of this wine if you are into the dusty aged thing and also don’t mind waiting a few hours to decant the wine.

I’m in for a set quite happily if Klez gets my email before they sell out.

Hi, I’m John. Both wines spent approximately 20 months in French chateau(thin stave)barrels, 30 % new, 60 %one and two year old barrels. I use mostly Taransaud and Remond and Seguin Moreau barrels in these bordeaux style wines.
John Hawley

I suppose I should check my email and then send one to woot service, eh?

Hi John. Club member here. Trying to remember if these have bee available for purchase or tasting at any of the recent events. I don’t recall ever trying them. Are they newly released?

I think you have to take the movie as it is- a story of two guys and their unique personalities and opinions during a very short segment of their life. I love the movie for its entertainment value- and I still love a good bottle of merlot, and pinot, and blends…

These are both library wines that we have held back. We try to hold back certain vintages that need more time in the bottle. We recently sent out an '02 Cab to our club. Our current Merlot is the '06 and Cab is '05 (we held it back and releases after selling out of the '06 and '07 Estate Cab).-Paul Hawley

Did any lab rats get the Cab?

I hope so, but it wasn’t me.

Actually after seeing the offering I am minorly piqued that neither Richard nor I got a SIGNED bottle :stuck_out_tongue: I mean Imagine that… ratting a signed bottle…

i did! left town for the weekend, just back and will pop open with lunch. please stand by…!

Excellent rattage from richardhod and klezman! Go to the head of the class, mon Elevés!

The wines certainly sound interesting, despite my known suspicion of California Merlot.

Hawley Family: I haven’t been up to Dry Creek since verasion began, please share with us how the grapes are looking today?

LabRat Report

Hawley 2004 Cab

As I was not around last night to taste, we will be day drinking! Lunch consists of brown rice pasta with spicy garlic marinara with artichoke hearts, criminis and wilted arugula.

Cork the bottle. Corking left a fair amount of sediment in the neck. Wipe away and pour…

My tasting companion likens the color to True Blood- , blue- red, super dark but not inky.

First sips brings lots of plummy blackberry with a hint of chocolate and a spicy finish. A bit hot for me from the get go- hoping the sharpness will ease with a little time. Pairs well with the red sauce, though I must admit the sauce turned out a lot spicier than intended. Wishing I had made steak tacos instead, as this wine almost begs for a meaty companion. Gonna wolf down lunch, let the bottle breathe and BRB with round 2.

The bottle has been open about an hour (and my mouth has recovered). Detecting raspberries now on the nose, still lots of spice. Mouthfeel is round and full, almost chewy. Earthy, almost herbal finish.

I think I am going to let this bottle open up a bit more and will post again in a coupe of hours…