Like all the other vineyards we visited this day, we arrived in the pouring rain. From what wasn’t under water and that I glimpsed as I ran splashingly under the pergola, the outside of the place is nice. The circular tasting bar was full, so we were nudged towards the “overflow” tasting table, where we got a chance to talk with the chef who was in charge of pairing the cheeses with the tastings for the event. I’m not going to go over the cheeses, but suffice it to say they were well-paired and really tasty. There were even two raw milk cheeses, which as a huge advocate, I was pleased to see.
I didn’t catch our splasher’s name, unfortunately, but she was pleasant and knew the wines. She was also very rushed, which I can hardly be upset by given the day, so we didn’t get much sense of what the personality of the winery was. I can forgive that completely, as the tasting room was just simply overwhelmed. No amount of staffing would have solved that–there’s only so much room!
First up was a their 2008 Chardonnay ($14.99). I think I’ve established that I am not generally a white wine girl, but I am not sure if I mentioned that I don’t like Chardonnay in particular. This was one of a handful of Chardonnay’s I’ve even finished the sample of, and I loved it. It’s aged 50/50 in stainless and oak. I got pear and pineapple on the nose, and the pineapple stayed just a bit on the palette. The citrus was there, but I tasted more vanilla, apple, and melon. There was no butter, which was surprising to me given the oak aging. You can’t beat this as a white, especially not at the price point. I plan on going back and stocking up for summer.
The 2008 Cuvee des Champs ($29.99) is a blend of 5 grapes: merlot, malbec, petit verdot, and another grape I didn’t jot down. This is a big, big wine. The color is beautiful. There was spice and chocolate on the nose. The chocolate disappears on the tongue, but returns large in the finish. There was some very rich, though not jammy, dark fruit on the palette, with oak (thankfully, not too much). All around, this is a good wine, though I am not entirely certain it meets the price point expectations. It also really, really needs food. The cheese we had with it was great, but I see it with fire-roasted pizza. Not sophisticated, and this wine could stand up to sophisticated food, but the fire-roasted, smoky flavor would work really well.
Along with these three, or the Grand Opening of the Appellation Wine Trail, White Hall busted out the big guns with a 4 year vertical tasting of their Petit Verdot. We started with a 2006 (not for sale), which was my least favorite of the bunch. It had virtually no nose, though their tasting sheet says I should have smelled black cherry and blackberry. No one at our tasting station smelled anything at all, so I don’t think it was just me. There was some plum on the palate, and tobacco on the finish, but that was about all I got. It wasn’t bad, per se, there just wasn’t much too it.
The 2007 Petit Verdot (also not for sale) was my favorite of the vertical. I like big red wines, and this was huge. Cherry and black fruit on the nose, with some tobacco. A full, complex wine with raspberries, cedar, some leather, and a pleasant dryness. It had a medium finish of berry and leather.
A close runner up to the 2007 for me, the 2008 Petit Verdot ($19.99) was beautiful. Again, lots of cedar here, both on the nose and on the palate, but it’s balanced out well by some red fruits. Their tasting notes said chocolate, but I got coffee. It ended longer than the 2007, and less smoky. This is a great wine, and I’d serve it with or without food. It’s on my list to grab for our cellar.
The finale was the 2009 Petit Verdot ($19.99). This was a more basic example of a Petit Verdot. It’s not terribly complex, though still perfectly nice to drink casually. I felt like it was the dumbed-down version of the 2008, though I suspect it was the growing season and not the winemaker. It had all the same elements of nose and palate, but they were kind of muted, if that makes any sense.
We finished off with the dessert wine, Soliterre 2007 ($16.99), which is prounced Solitaire (I checked, because I didn’t want to sound like an idiot talking about it). It was sweet without being cloying (I didn’t get a residual sugar percentage, sorry). Lots of passion fruit and honey. My interest in dessert wines is limited, since we rarely pop one open, but this was very nice and set at a reasonable price point. We almost never end up finishing a dessert wine when we open it, so it’s nice to have a selection that you enjoy drinking but isn’t going to break the bank if you end up making into ice cream.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by White Hall’s offerings. I hadn’t heard much about them. Now, I didn’t get to taste most of their regular offerings, but what we did taste was really drinkable, enjoyable wine at a really great price. They’re definitely on my “to visit more often!” list, and I can’t wait to go back and do a regular tasting. I will say that I also really appreciate that they refund one tasting fee for a purchase.
- Grab Your Life Jacket, And Triple A Card, We’re Going Wine Tasting! (eclecticedibles.wordpress.com)