Early on in our courtship, my husband surprised me with a romantic weekend getaway to Napa Valley. Of course, this act solidified my love and admiration for the man. After all, he understood my passion for wine, even if it was not his. He was happy just to see me in my element.
At that time, I had been working in the wine industry for a little more than a year, and I was thrilled to finally get to visit in person some of the wineries that up to this point I’d only known by their wines and representatives. Our first stop was a VIP tour and tasting at Hall Wines. What a start!
We arrived on the mountaintop in Rutherford and were surrounded by awe-inspiring views of Napa Valley. It was a foggy autumn morning, with wispy clouds hovering along Mayacamas mountain ridges. It was absolutely breathtaking.
As we approached the door to the main house, we passed a delightful metal sculpture of two figures in play – the first piece of art we would get to appreciate that day. Then we were welcomed with a luscious sauvignon blanc as we mingled with the other guests.
We talked about the wine we were drinking, the views of Napa and the treasure trove of art in the home. It was this moment that I began to understand something about my husband – he has a fantastic palate! He and I discussed the flavors in the wine, the mouthfeel and even the brix, or sugar in the wine. He was speaking my language – and he wanted to know more! I was definitely in love.
The tour began, and we were guided to the wine cave. Painted barrels lined the walls and small sculptures adorned specially lit alcoves. The ceiling was lined with antique Austrian bricks. I was impressed…but the best part was about to come…
We were led to the end of the cavern that opened up into a stately banquet room. A massive chandelier dripping in Swarovski crystals hung over a large banquet table, crafted to resemble the roots of the grapevines above. This was heaven.
And then we got to taste!
Unfortunately, my tasting notes are long since gone, but I remember the voluptuousness of the exquisite red wines. They were powerful and delicious. We walked away with a bottle of 2009 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon.
At the time, I appreciated what we had, but I wasn’t aware of the journey that bottle was about to take. We waited seven years, one wedding, two cross country moves, five different homes, and one child, all the while in less than ideal storage conditions, before we finally opened it.
I was afraid this fantastic bottle of wine was ruined. Most of our wine collection had been from one cross country move alone. The cork even broke as I turned in the corkscrew. However, as I poured the wine, I could smell its intoxicating bouquet. I breathed in the aromas of cherries, ripe fruits, pepper, and tobacco. It had all the indications of a California Cabernet Sauvignon, without any of the heat or cork taint I was expecting from its travels. It smelled fresh and delicious. I couldn’t wait to try it!
Sure enough, the wine held up! It had a strong tannic structure with gorgeous legs that painted the glass. This was an extremely well crafted wine, with 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec. My mouth was filled with flavors of chocolate, baked berries, and subtle tones of menthol and anise. There was a nice acidic balance. However, the velvet mouthfeel of the wine took it to the next level. It was elegant and lovely.
When I tasted this divine Cabernet Sauvignon, I was instantly transported back to that dreamy morning of views, art, enchanting caves, and the most decadent wine that I got to share with my lover at a time when we were just discovering each other.