Thursday, September 18, 2014

2014 is in the BARN!

Just as the clouds let loose this morning,  the last vineyard of the year - Gold Rock Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir, located in Annapolis, on the far Sonoma Coast - was being loaded onto the truck. 

We are officially done with Patz & Hall grapes for 2014!

The quality is exceptional. The Pinots are dark, full of mature, ripe tannins, fruity, complex and smelling really good. Whites are showing really nice aromas, full of sun drenched fruits. Really fetching! Acid levels were higher than normal.  

Once we started picking on August 19th with early Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, things kept rolling. Almost exactly one month, to the day! Not an easy task, but the cellar crew has been spectacular! A big shout of thanks to Alberto, Freddie, Pepe and the seasonal guys for a job well done! 

There is a particular satisfaction having the last fruit picked, literally, snatched, from under the rain- what a relief to have another very fine year in the barn.

Congratulations to everyone on an exciting, high quality vintage!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Inside Harvest 2014: Moses-Hall Vineyard

Last Friday we harvested Moses-Hall Vineyard, one of our favorite Pinot Noir vineyards in Carneros. The Pinot Noir vines here are 14 years old, planted to a mix of five clones, including two of the famous Dijon clones and James Hall’s favorite clone, Calera. The vineyard’s gravelly loam soil provides good drainage for the vines, one of the hallmarks of the Carneros region.
Moses-Hall Vineyard in Carneros AVA
It takes about 30 people—three crews of eight pickers, one tractor driver and one sorter—20 hours to pick the vineyard. In total, 18-20 tons are harvested from Moses-Hall Vineyard’s 6.2 acres each year. Less than half of this is used to make Moses-Hall Vineyard Pinot Noir, and the rest of the quality fruit is blended into our Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
Pickers harvesting Moses-Hall Vineyard
Winemaker James Hall made the call to harvest on September 5 based on the flavor and brix (sugar) level of the grapes. A first pass through the vineyard was made the previous week, when the brix level was at 24, and the second and final pass, made last Friday, was made at 25 brix. These two lots will be vinified separately and then blended together to create a balanced wine.
Co-founder and Winemaker James Hall discussing harvest with Colinas Farming Company VP and Vineyard Manager Chris Pedemonte
The crew started picking just before sunrise, around 6am, when it was still quite chilly and foggy outside. This is the optimal time of day to pick because bacteria and yeast are slowed down and the grapes are already cool when they arrive at the winery so they don’t have to be chilled before being put into a cold-soak.
Moses-Hall Vineyard at sunrise
Moses-Hall Vineyard, which serves as co-founders James Hall and Anne Moses’ front yard, is located only ten miles from the winery, allowing the grapes to be picked and delivered to the winery very quickly, preventing the grapes from breaking down or bacteria from flourishing.
Pinot Noir grapes ready to be taken to the winery
After the grapes arrive at the winery, they will be sorted, de-stemmed, put into a cold soak for 3-5 days to tease out their delicate and aromatic qualities, and then fermented in stainless steel tanks for 6-10 days. After fermentation, the must (juice, skin, stems and seeds) will be pressed, and the wine will be put into French oak barrels, 40% of which are new. After a year in barrel, the wine will be bottled, aged for another six months, and then released. Only about 350 cases of this vineyard-designate wine are made, and they are sold exclusively to wine club members and in our Sonoma tasting room.

Look for 2014 Moses-Hall Vineyard Pinot Noir in spring 2016!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Take Five: 5 Questions with Dan Walsh

Have you met our Wine Educator Dan Walsh yet?

He took five minutes and answered our 5 questions...

1) How were you first introduced to Patz & Hall?

In the summer of 2009, I was at a friend's house for a BBQ and they opened a bottle of 2007 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. This was one of my first experiences with Chardonnay, an experience that really got me interested in wine. 

2) Where if your absolute favorite place to enjoy wine?

Walking the beach on a clear summer day, with a glass and bottle in one hand and a beautiful lady in the other. 

3) Most memorable story of working with Patz & Hall?

In my short time working at Patz and Hall, I would have to go with the Grand Opening for employees. I loved seeing everyone having such a great time and the atmosphere of the new house was very welcoming. 

4) 2 truths and a lie about yourself

I could live off Mexican Food. 
I love wine more than my girlfriend. 
I am scared to death of the ocean. 

5) All time favorite Patz & Hall wine?

2000 Alder Springs Chardonnay out of a Magnum

Friday, August 15, 2014

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at Patz & Hall

We had the great pleasure of tasting Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) at Patz & Hall!

Our club members, Mel and Rosemary, very generously shared this Grand Cru bottle with our staff, while we provided additional wines for a comparative tasting (along with a selection of delicious cheese). What an amazing opportunity for our team!

How did this tasting come to be? Mel and Rosemary documented it for us:

Background: just before Memorial Day, we went to Patz & Hall for an informal tasting. Our two good friends at the tasting bar, Ross and Dan, were there, as were Heather Patz and Courtney Wilson. Dan had just returned from a wine trip to Burgundy where he and his friends had finagled a tour and tasting at Domaine Romanee Conti (DRC), arguably the most famed and revered estate in Burgundy. Dan said the barrel tasting at DRC was the most memorable such experience he had ever had. It was a light day at Patz & Hall and we lingered for an hour or so, listening to Dan's recount of the experience. He also mentioned that he knew that the Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa had two bottles of DRC's Grands Echerzeaux for sale. We were intrigued, having heard of DRC all of our wine-studying lives but had never tasted any, due to its exorbitant price and our admittedly California palates.

The next day we went to an event at Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma. Afterward, we went to the Bottle Barn and inquired about the DRC. The wine guy brought out two bottles of the 2011 vintage, one a regular Echerzeaux and the other the Grands. We bought two bottles of the Grands, with the intent of having one for a special wine dinner with some Francophile friends, and the other with Dan and our friends at Patz & Hall. We mentioned to the Bottle Barn wine guy that we knew Dan, and he responded that he did.

A couple of days later there was an event at P&H. Dan saw us and said, "I hear you did some shopping." His girlfriend had heard from the wine guy at Bottle Barn that two people had come in to buy two bottles of DRC and had mentioned Dan's name (apparently not a common occurrence). We tasked Dan with setting up a tasting that would do justice to the DRC. We told him to include whoever he wanted, and that we would bring the DRC. He said he'd work on it.

So on Thursday, August 7, they closed the tasting room at 3:00 and cleared it for our tasting.

The lineup:

2011 Hudson Chardonnay from Patz & Hall
2011 Kistler Chardonnay (not a Patz & Hall wine but contributed by Anne Moses)
2008 Silex Pouilly Fume from a highly respected producer from the Loire Valley, Didier Dagueneau, contributed by Dan
2011 Hyde Pinot in magnum, contributed by Patz & Hall
2011 Grands Echerzeaux, contributed by Gafners And later, a 2012 Zio Tony Ranch Patz & Hall Chardonnay contributed by Anne Moses and Heather Patz

I think the pictures tell the rest of the story. EVERYONE appreciated the education and the opportunity. James Hall and Anne Moses, shared their knowledge about not only their wines but also the French wines.
Anne had chosen an assortment of cheeses to complement the tasting, and everyone agreed that the goat cheese and the Silex were a wonderful match, and the La Tur went with everything.

The DRC was very tight at first, but after an hour or so, it blossomed on the nose. Even though DRC wines are made to age for decades and we attacked this one as an infant, it hinted at where it could go. We are very glad we could do this, and are very grateful to the Patz and Hall families and their awesome compadres for making this possible!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Harvest Update from James Hall

We are having a beautiful, cool, early August, which has slowed ripening down to a leisurely pace. What looked like an early ripening year, with dry, hot weather in July, has settled into a more typical rhythm of cool nights, low clouds in the morning and sunny afternoons.

I just sampled the Chardonnay at Hyde Vineyards which is sitting at 20.6 Brix. This block, which is normally our first grapes most years, should be ready to harvest towards the end of the week of August 18th, maybe the 21nd.

In 2013 we picked this block of Hyde Chardonnay on Aug 20th, so harvest dates appear to be following closely with last year, which is a great sign, as the 2013’s are showing beautifully!

The crop levels appear to be slightly less than 2013, but not by much. The clusters generally, have smaller berries than last year, so cluster weights may be a touch lower than 2013.

Check out this little jewel of a cluster from Hyde Old Wente- just 100 grams, but dozens of tiny berries!

The quality looks excellent with grape samples showing perfectly clean fruit, lots of very small berries, bright acids and thick flavorful skins.

It’s hard to believe, but 2014 looks to be another fantastic vintage!

Friday, August 8, 2014

5 Questions with Artist Adrián Ssegura

We asked Art Harvest #1 artist Adrián Ssegura 5 questions about himself, his work and passions. His pieces will be featured at the Patz & Hall Sonoma House until September 18th.

When did you realize that art was your passion?

It began at a very early age. Since I was 3 years old, I was drawing every single day and over the years, that passion eventually turned into a career for me. 

Why is expression through painting important to you?

Without passion- art makes no sense. I really love to show bold powerful colors with large brush strokes. Its heaviness is an extension of what I feel behind my work. 

What or who is your biggest inspiration?

I have different sources of inspiration. A movie, an exhibition, a trip to an amazing place, other artists that I admire- such as Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Lita Cabellut, Mark Rothko, Zao Wou-Ki. Life experiences can inspire me, but I think the most important thing is not the inspiration, but the daily work I put into the studio.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on three collections of  Artworks simultaneously. One speaks about the Circus world (“FUNAMBULI”), another entitledWORLD”, in which I represent different landscapes of the world and the last is more focused on the political and social difficulties that Spain is suffering. This is a very personal collection and difficult to convey without having the pieces in front of you. All three series are unique in their own.

Favorite wine, food and art pairing?

I love many wines from all over the world, but I especially enjoy Spanish white wines such as Rueda or Verdejo, which I like to accompany with seafood. But I always prefer an excellent red wine with an excellent piece of meat. A dream would be to marry all these pleasures while sitting a room covered in Mark Rothko paintings.