Editor's note: Today's wine column is by Erin Allport of Wine on the Way, an SJO advertiser. Wine on the Way is offering a special discount through Easter for SJO readers who order online with a special code. The code is SJO10; enter it when you "view my cart" before checking out.
Wine on the Way delivers to local zip codes (free on orders of $150 or more) and ships all over the US (free on orders of $250 or more).
Patz & Hall Vineyards began in 1988 with the purpose of making exceptional small-lot and single-vineyard wines. And, for the last 25 years they have not only maintained that commitment but they have also remained relevant. A lot of wineries have their moment and then seem to fade, this is not the case with Patz & Hall. I think one of the main reasons is the dedication of the people who represent their wines. Augustan Wine Imports – a division of Premier Beverage Company – has some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable sales people in the market, you add that with the fact that owner Donald Patz travels to the different markets around the world and is very accessible through social media and you can see why these wines have never seemed to lose their momentum.
They focus exclusively on chardonnay and pinot noir from some of the most sought after California vineyards at a fraction of the price you would pay from other wineries. How do they do it when others seem to charge a fortune for the same grapes? They have cultivated long-lasting relationships from storied vineyards in Napa Valley, Russian River Valley, Mendocino County, Sonoma Coast and Santa Lucia Highlands that make up these great wines.
Donald was asked at a conference what makes a great wine. Here's his nine characteristics:
PLEASURE – whenever you drink a great wine it delivers pleasure.
COMPLEXITY – even as a young wine it should exhibit layers of flavor and added dimensions.
PURITY – No off aromas – no mold or rot (exception being Bortrytis cinerea in late harvest wines).
INTENSITY/CONCENTRATION – These concentrated characters should still be attractive but it feels like there is "more" there.
STRUCTURE/BALANCE – Not just acidity – but the wine must be structured with tannin, acidity compatible with its aromas/flavors.
DYNAMIC – touches all the flavor spectrum – "tells a story" in the mouth – changing.
AGING POTENTIAL – Develops more nuance and complexity over time – "Great" wines age well.
TYPICITY – Not trumping these other elements – but the wine should be true to its heritage.
HARMONY – all the above elements must sync into a complete whole with the sum greater than the parts.
Now that we have talked about the winery, let's talk about the wines available in Orlando right now:
2013 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($28/btl) – $28 per bottle is a real steal for the exceptional quality of the 2013 vintage, which provided ideal weather for growing perfectly ripe chardonnay. This chardonnay has a brightness and acidity with very sophisticated mineral notes. It's vivid and energetic wine, green apple, pear, a little floral characteristic, hints of hazelnut and a touch of saltiness from the sea that is typical from the maritime influence of the Sonoma County region.
90 Points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Pale, bright yellow. Inviting aromas of lemon, tropical fruits and fresh herbs, plus an exotic suggest of botrytis. At once silky and sappy, showing a slight acid edge to the flavors of yellow fruits, floral honey, clove and salty minerals. This calmed down with aeration to show appealing texture and very good balance. An excellent opening shot to this line-up of chardonnays. (5/ 2014)
2012 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($34/btl) – This is the perfect wine for Easter Dinner. It's the silky type of Pinot Noir that I really love. Soft like a velvet sweater but with enough structure that it has body too. Deep cherry, raspberry meld together with a luscious mouthfeel. It's a wine that all wine drinkers will love.
90 Points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate This beauty is a real steal in terms of high quality at a reasonable price. Deep ruby, this exuberant, delicious Pinot offers up notes of roasted herbs, forest floor, plum sauce and black cherries followed by a deep, rich, full-bodied, round and luscious wine. Drink it over the next 3-4 years.
Donald visits Orlando a couple times a year. Keep posted for a future events and releases here at SJO and at WineontheWay.com.