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Patz & Hall Sonoma House Visit & Tasting with James Hall

James Hall, Anne Moses, Donald Patz and Heather Patz formed their partnership in 1988, produced their first Chardonnay in 1994, and their first Pinot Noir in 1996 from Hyde Vineyard (see next feature on Hyde Vineyard). They source grapes from regions in California ranging from the Santa Lucia Highlands in the South to Mendocino County in the North. There are two vineyards they source Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from: Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino County and Hyde Vineyard in Napa Carneros. Although known for distinctive single vineyard bottlings, the Sonoma Coast appellation Pinot Noir is a consistent performer and best seller year after year.

In 2015, Patz & Hall produced 24 wines, both still and sparkling, from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. All Pinot Noirs are produced using whole cluster additions, usually 20 percent. To extract color and flavor components, a proprietary punch-over device is used to beak up the cap two to three times a day. All fermentation are performed with native yeasts. Most wines are composed only of free run juice. The wine is aged in French oak barrels, varying between 50 and 70 percent.

Many of the vineyards that Patz & Hall source from are at least 20 years old (Alder Springs 1993, Brown Ranch 1992, Durell Vineyard late 1970s, Hudson Vineyard early 1980s, Hyde Vineyard 1979, Pisoni Vineyard late 1980s and Zio Tony Ranch 2000-2001-2006).

Our group met James Hall at the winery’s Sonoma House, a beautiful hospitality center on Eighth Street, a short distance from the Sonoma Plaza. James is quite the storyteller, and we were all captivated by his reminisces of the region’s history. The tasting was accompanied by canapés by La Saison: Roasted Morel Mushrooms with Melted Shallots & Thyme Highway One Bechamel with Crispy Kale on Rice Cracker, Sage Chicken Salad with Rose Petals on Rice Cracker, Tea Smoked Duck on Rice Cracker, and Studio 761 Truffle Collection.

Wines Tasted:

2013 Patz & Hall Rued Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

350 cases, $55. Barrel fermented, 100% malolactic fermentation, aged in 35% new French oak barrels. · Nicely composed, with a core of citrus and apple fruits, a touch of honey and floral, slightly viscous on the palate, with a compliment of nutty oak, bright acidity and some finishing length. Score: 89

2013 Patz & Hall Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley Chardonnay

14.2% alc., 375 cases, $55. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. Very appealing aromas of yellow peach, almond spread, and lemon curd. A little more richness and softness that the Hudson bottling, and more Russian River Valley in character, The flavors of yellow peach are accented with a hint of smoke, toast, and saline. The wine finishes with a lemony, saline theme that persists. Score: 93

2013 Patz & Hall Hudson Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay

14.2% alc., 375 cases, $55. James Hall calls Udson a “phenomenal farmer.” His father is the CEO of Exxon but he chose a different life path. His wines are sold primarily in Texas. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. A stunning wine that satisfies in every way. Bright aromas of lemon, pear and brioche lead to a potpourri of apple, pear and citrus flavors that arrive with aplomb. Refined, vibrant and serious, this classy juice leaves behind a vivid honeyed citrus note on the uplifting finish. Very special. Score: 96

2012 Patz & Hall Brown Ranch Carneros Pinot Noir

400 cases, $70. Second of three year contract. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Rich and ripe, with flavors of black cherry and blackberry, framed by firm tannins and spicy oak, ending with an intensely fruity and generous finish. Score: 90

2012 Patz & Hall Burnside Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 425 cases, $75. This vineyard is farmed by the Martinelli’s and Patz & Hall has produced Pinot Noir from this source since 2001. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with hi-tone scents of crushed dark red berries, black cherry and brioche. The mid weight flavors echo the nose with an added hint of smoke and herbs. The engaging fruit comes to the front over time in the glass. A bit rustic and rugged upon opening, with a rush of tannins, but showing much better harmony and refinement the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Decant now or cellar before enjoying. Score: 90

2012 Patz & Hall Chenoweth Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 925 cases, $60. This vineyard is farmed exclusively for Patz & Hall who have produced a vineyard-designated Pinot Noir since 2004. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Heavenly aromas of dark stone and berry fruits with a hint of spice, mocha and vanillin. Intensely flavored with a sappy core of sweet boysenberry, blackberry and pomegranate fruits framed by muscular tannins. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the tannins had noticeably softened. Cellar this beauty for a celebration down the line. Score: 91

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