Walking into Hagafen Cellars at 4160 Silverado Trail in Napa is delightful. The buildings are fronted by plantings of flowers and artwork, the latter created from upcycled forks, tools, etc. The owners and vintners are Ernie and Irit Weir. They have established a family-run, sustainable Green Winery – solar-powered, certified organic, with the handsomest of hens. And the Weirs produce the highest level kosher wines. As a Midwest girl who once purchased ghastly kosher wines (we all know those labels) to serve to close friends, I will atone by shipping Hagafen Cellars’ wines eastward. Speaking of shipping, the White House has often called on Hagafen to supply wine for visiting foreign dignitaries. It is easy to taste why.
Hagafen Cellars offers 4 tasting menus, from which I chose The Hagafen Wines, 5 tastes for $10, and my Hagafen is ultra-friendly, down to earth, and informative. We learned that hagafen is Hebrew for “the vine” and prix is Hebrew for “fruit”. The Prix wines are definitely prize-worthy and fruit-full. My first pour was the 2012 Collage, 85% Roussanne, a delicious, complex white that had me exclaim, “a white for the red wine drinker!” Our pourer, Nancy, said it better, labeling the Collage “The Cold Red”. The 2012 Sauvignon Blanc followed, a pleasant surprise of a white for all of us on high blood pressure meds that are not allowed to drink grapefruit juice. This sauv blanc will be our Christmas morning beverage because of its refreshing grapefruit flavors. I lovey it! The 2012 Chardonnay is fresh with aromas of lemon rind and vanilla, not super buttery/oaky – a trend in chardonnays that I am enjoying. The 2012 Dry White Riesling, not your parents’ Riesling, having half the residual sugar, is still sweet but also dry. Aromas of strawberry and orange zest filled the glass while citrus and strawberry/raspberry notes filled the mouth.
husband (John) chose The Prix Wines, 5 tastes for $20. Everyone at
John’s first pour was the 2011 Pinot Noir, with a leather nose and a nice smoky, elderberry snap of flavor. It has good residual finish, is somewhat tart, and stands on its own very well – no food needed. I matched my 2011 Merlot with John’s 2009 Merlot, both excellent. The 2011 Merlot is young with real potential, leather and berry and everything you want in a merlot. The 2009 Merlot is a mainstream merlot, ready to drink right now. The 2009 Syrah has a chocolate and mint nose with sage and pepper adding zip to the underlying berry flavor. The 2010 Cabernet Franc has nice tannins enrobed in warm berry with a dusty finish, while the 2009 Cabernet Franc has a raspberry nose, developed flavors and a dry finish. It is stunning how much we could taste the vine in these two Cabernet Franc vintages. The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is the poster child for wine from this grape, rich and ready to drink. Cherry is predominant in scent and on the tongue in the mild, well-balanced 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.
One of the tasting flights is Sweet Wines, 5 tastes for $15. There are 3 white Rieslings, a late harvest sauvignon blanc and a late harvest chardonnay. I want to add a shout-out here to fellow tasters Tess and Doug from Rancho Cucamonga – hi there, it was fun to taste great wine and pet a chicken with you!
Nancy gave us a bonus pour of the 2007 Hagafen Brut Cuvee. It is dry and delightful with a bright green apple crispness. The color is a lovely pale gold kissed by pink. Ernie Weir worked at Domaine Chandon for more than 15 years, and that experience shows. Thank you, Ernie and Irit, for the excellence exemplified by your vineyards and in your wines at Hagafen Cellars.
About the Author: Judi never does anything short, be it children (even at 5' 10", all 3 kids outgrew her), a voicemail message, a menu for family & friends, a day of visiting wineries, or a wine pour. Especially the latter; wine glasses are large for a reason! Her daughter-in-laws and their friends have a measure called The Judi-Pour. That means we have blessedly good relationships, 'cuz her name could be attached to worse. Sparkling wines are my go-to, but there is always a time for a peppery Pinot Noir or a crisp Pinot Grigio. Or a chill Sauvignon Blanc poolside or a toasty Cab in hand while playing bocce or a frizzante after work or.....