Maggy Hawk: Kendall-Jackson’s Crown Jewel of Pinot Noir
Maggy Hawk is a gem of a vineyard that rarely comes up in discussion about California’s greatest Pinot Noir
vineyards, yet it is the crown jewel among the many acres of vineyards that Kendall-Jackson farms in
California. Perhaps its hidden location in the Anderson Valley’s “deep end,” in a rugged and remote outpost that
few have ever visited. The map below from WineMaps.com shows the location.
Maggy Hawk is the name of Barbara Banke’s favorite winning thoroughbred horse. Banke was a lawyer and
wine connoisseur when she met Jess Jackson and played a major role in the growth of Jackson Family Wines.
She assumed the reigns of Jackson Family Wines when Mr. Jackson passed away in 2011. She established
the Maggy Hawk label with the inaugural release in 2007. Before that, grapes from Maggy Hawk Vineyard had
been an important component of the La Crema Anderson Valley bottling beginning in 2003.
This 58.7-acre estate is situated among the coastal redwoods just west of Highway 128. It is a fog-cloaked and
wind-swept setting, unique for its complex array of steep slopes and aspects, and well-drained, porous,
decomposed sandstone soil. Maggy Hawk winemaker, Elizabeth Grant-Douglas, revers the vineyard property,
calling it her “favorite place on earth” and “heavenly.”
Maggy Hawk was planted in 2000 to 23.55 acres of distinct blocks with a variety of Pinot Noir clones that
include Pommard, Wädenswil 2A, and Dijon 115, 667 and 777, principally on rootstocks 3309C and 101-14.
The vine spacing is 8’ x 5’ and 9’ x 5’ with 978 to 1102 plants per acre on a VSP trellis with bilateral cordon.
The vineyard manager, Dennis Winchester, lives on the property.
The Maggy Hawk Pinot Noirs are all predominantly single clone bottlings from a specific block within the
vineyard and are named after Maggy Hawk’s progeny. Jolie, Afleet, Stormin’ and Unforgettable wines are the
offspring of the mare Maggy Hawk and her sire, Hawkster, who also has a Maggy Hawk Vineyard wine named
in his honor. Jolie is composed predominantly of Dijon clone 115, Afleet is predominantly Pommard clone,
Stormin’ is predominantly Dijon clone 667, as is Unforgettable, but is from 667 grown on the vineyard’s
steepest slope, and Hawkster is mainly Wädenswil 2A.
I first met with the wines with the 2007 vintage and I commented, “These are truly special connoisseur’s wines
that defy appropriate description....possessing a uniqueness and somewhereness that sets them apart.” My
tasting of 2011 and 2012 Maggy Hawks Pinot Noirs only reaffirmed my enthusiasm.
Maggy Hawk wines are produced in small quantities (a total of less than 1,000 cases) and sold through a
mailing list at www.maggyhawk.com. Jolie, Afleet, Stormin’ and Unforgettable are released in the early spring
and Hawkster, which is only made in exceptional vintages, is released in the fall.
A Maggy Hawk Vineyard Sweepstakes is being offered through June 30, 2015, that includes round trip airfare to
San Francisco, CA, a 3-night hotel stay, personal transportation to Anderson Valley and Maggy Hawk Vineyard
and dinner vouchers. Visit the winery’s website for instructions on entering (no purchase necessary).
2011 Harvest Notes: Harvest started later than normal and the fruit was picked between October 24 and
October 28. The growing season was characterized by heavy spring rains and cooler weather than normal.
Yields were lower than average.
2012 Harvest Notes: Nearly a perfect year, the vintage yielded fruit of optimal ripeness while maintaining
acidity critical for balance and maturing potential. Grapes were harvested two weeks earlier than in the cooler
The wines reviewed here from the 2012 vintage are a little better than their 2011 counterparts. The 2011 wines
all show more oak overlay. Labels all report 14.5% ABV.
2011 Maggy Hawk Afleet Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.57, 97 cases, $66.
Pommard clone. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 34% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Lovely aromas of Bing cherry, blackberry, dried herbs and vanilla lead to a mid weight palate of enticing spicy
black cherry and raspberry fruit flavors with a thread of herbs and oak vanillin in the background. The tannins
are ripe, firm and well-proportioned, the mouthfeel is soft and smooth, and the finish has impressive length.
The wine was even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with deep cherry
flavor and a ridiculously long finish.
2011 Maggy Hawk Hawkster Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
15.0% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.54, 195 cases, $66.
Wädenswil 2A clone. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 39% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in
the glass. Very shy aromas of dark cherry and berry with a hint of marzipan and spice. Well-endowed with
luscious cherry and berry fruits with a noticeable oak overlay that compliments rather than intrudes. The
tannins are modest and supportive, and the finish has a generous richness.
2011 Maggy Hawk Jolie Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.57, 242 cases, $66. Dijon
clone 115. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 48% new.
Gorgeous moderately dark reddish purple color in
the glass. This wine has an “Oh God!” nose offering sexy aromas of Bing cherry, cardamom spice, dark
chocolate and vanilla bean. The delicious black cherry core saturates the mid palate, expands in the mouth,
and carries over to a finish that seems to last a minute. Suede-like tannins frame the fruit which is accented by
oak-driven notes of spice, mocha and vanilla. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle, the aromatic goodness was still in full dress. The only nit I have is that the oak is a little heavyhanded.
2011 Maggy Hawk Unforgettable Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
15.1% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.54, 196 cases, $66.
Dijon clone 667. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 26% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. The nose leads with effusive aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, cherry, redwood and forest floor. Soft
and smooth on the palate with a mid weight array of dark cherry and berry flavors complimented by a savory,
“woodsy” tone that is hard to describe but very likable. Oak-driven notes of anise and toast play in the
background. Juicy acidity brings the wine on target.
2012 Maggy Hawk Afleet Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.59, 156 cases, $66.
Pommard clone. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 43% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Lovely scent of black cherry mash, spice, rose petal and grilled mushrooms. More sappy and
concentrated than the 2011 version, with a bombastic array of redder cherry and berry fruits touched by oak.
Deft winemaking here with suave tannins, and bright acidity that flatter the fruit core. Like all the 2012 Maggy
Hawk Pinot Noirs, the finish is noteworthy for its generosity and persistence.
2012 Maggy Hawk Hawkster Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
15.0% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.54, 268 cases, $66.
Wädenswil 2A clone. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 63% new.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the
glass. A very charming wine that aims to please with inviting scents of dark cherry, spice, rose petal and aniselaced
oak. The full-bodied attack of black cherry, black raspberry and blackberry flavors are accented with a
hint of spice. The most tannic of the Maggy Hawk Pinot Noirs, but has the fruit concentration to balance. The
velvety mouthfeel is very seductive and the head-turning finish ramps up the intensity level a few notches.
2012 Maggy Hawk Jolie Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.54, 312 cases, $66. Dijon clone 115. Aged
14 months in French oak barrels, 64% new.
purple color in the glass. The nose is subdued upon opening,
but blossoms over time in the glass to reveal aromas of dark
cherry liquor, spice, and plenty of floral goodness including
violets and roses. The nose was even more captivating the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle and
was reminiscent of capturing a whiff of seductive perfume on a beautiful
woman. The mid weight plus core of dark cherry and raspberry fruit is
incredibly flavorful and reveals many nuances over time including spice,
conifer, rosehips tea and just the right touch of oak. Elegant and sleek
with amazing length, this wine is the whole package. Compared to the 2011 vintage, this wine is a bit more
elegant, more fashionable and shows more adroit oak integration. I have tasted this wine on three other
occasions and was blown away each time. An exemplar.
2012 Maggy Hawk Stormin’ Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.54, 223 cases,
$66. Dijon clone 667. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 41% new.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. The nose is more earthy than fruity, with aromas of mulch, mushroom and a hint of
blackberry jam. Very soft and silky in the mouth with impressive harmony, this mid weight wine offers
layers of sweet dark blackberry, black raspberry and spiced plum flavors accented by complimentary
mocha-laced oak. The tannins are satiny and folded in nicely. The fruit intensity builds in the mouth,
culminating in an orgasmic finish that never seems to want to go away.