I just attended a pau hana (after work) wine tasting which I expected to be a simple affair.
Getting to HASR Wine Co by 6:00pm was my biggest concern (since I usually get off work
between 5-5:30pm). I expected it to be another one of HASR Wine Co’s weekly wine tastings
except this one had a $45 charge since it was 7 high end wines. The Michael Jordan, Lance
Armstrong and Albert Pujols of the wine world. Often hard to find selections that carry large
price tags if you’re “lucky” enough to stumble across a bottle or two. However what unfolded
wasn’t totally unexpected since wine seems to bring out the best in people. Several regular
tasters brought appetizers and their own treasured bottles to share with the group. The informal
wine tasting started with 7 wines – two Chardonnays and 5 Cabernet Sauvignons – provided by
HASR Wine Co. My personal ratings are in parenthesis based on a 5 point scale with Wine
Spectator ratings next to it based on a 100 point scale.
2007 Peter Michael La Carriere Chardonnay (4.5) (92)
Named after the “Quarry” shaped vineyard that sits above the 1000 foot elevation, this Sonoma
County Chardonnay expresses as much “terroir” as you’ll find in California Chardonnay. The 15%
alcohol is masked by the abundance of ripe, sweet fruit.
Orange blossom, nectarine and mineral on the nose with immediate sweet fruit that hits the
palate that’s gradually replaced with pleasing acidity and mineral with a long finish.
2006 Kistler Dutton Ranch Chardonnay (4) (92)
Grapes from the famed Dutton Ranch are often found in the top Californian Chardonnays.
Stone fruit and mineral hit the nose replaced by sweet oak and vanilla notes. Concentrated ripe
fruit on the palate with a touch of mineral and a long finish.
2005 Roy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (3.5)
With only two vintages released thus far, Roy Estate has established their brand in the company
of cult Californian wines.
Concentrated red fruit on the nose with sweet red fruit on the palate with a good balance of
fruit and tannin with a medium finish.
2005 Dominus (3.75) (89)
From the Moueix clan of Chateau Petrus fame in Pomerol, Dominus is a blend of Cabernet
Sauvignon with a bit of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot blended into the mix as is
usually done in Bordeaux. Though it legally can be labeled as a Cabernet Sauvignon (92%), the
wine simply is known as Dominus.
Ripe red fruit on the nose with minty undertones. Bordeaux-like on the palate with a moderate
mouth feel and nice balance of fruit and tannins with acid that creeps on the medium finish.
2005 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon (4.5) (93)
The original estate was founded in 1882 with the current owners first producing Cabernet 100
years after its founding. In my opinion, one of the few domestic Cabs that improves with aging.
Rich ripe and semi-dried red fruit on the nose with a touch of sage. Good balance of fruit and
tannin on the palate with a seamless flow over the palate and a medium long finish.
2005 Cliff Lede Moon Symphony (4)
A combination of grapes from his Darkside of the Moon and Sympathy for the Devil blocks, this
wine was provided from the personal cellar of HASR’s owners. 98% Cabernet Sauvignon with a
touch of Cabernet Franc.
Slightly closed nose but concentrated fruit still evident with a thick rich mouth feel with red
and black fruit and a very long finish. Need to decant (or run through Vinturi) if you plan to
2005 Cliff Lede Poetry (4.5) (91)
Produced from only the best fruit from selected vineyards, this is Cliff Lede’s flagship wine. 89%
Cabernet Sauvignon with Malbec, Petit Verdot and Merlot blended to round out the wine.
A nice balance of red fruit, herbs and spices on the nose. Good concentration of flavors on the
palate but not overbearing with a long finish.
I intentionally didn’t provide prices for wine since HASR’s price will undoubtedly be different
from what you might be able to procure these gems for in your neighborhood wine shop - a
wine shop that is limited to one three-pack will price higher than a wine shop with an unlimited
allocation. Needless to say, the 2 Chardonnays start in the $75 range with the Cabernet
Sauvignons fetching anywhere from $100 to $175.
As mentioned, I had the fortune to be in the midst of several generous wine tasters who shared
gems from their own wine collections for all to sample. The following is just a small sample of
wines either provided by fellow tasters or purchased right at HASR Wine Co and immediately
1990 Dominus (4.5) (91)
Dried orange peel and a touch of dried herb on the nose with dried currant, herb and mineral on
the palate with acidity emerging on the back end and a medium finish. Almost 20 years old but
still in balance.
2005 Hartwell Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (4.5) (95)
The last vintage that winemaker Andy Erickson produced before moving on to Screaming Eagle.
Concentrated red and black fruit on the nose with a touch of sage with sweet red fruit on the
palate balanced by silky tannins and accented by fresh herbs with a long finish.
2005 Linne Calodo The Martyr (4.25) (93)
Produced from the Paso Robles region in central California with an abundance of limestone soils
and cool ocean breezes, this Mourvedre based wine with Syrah and Grenache was one of the best
domestic Rhone blends I’ve tried.
Herbs, chocolate, red and black fruit and Asian spice all rolled into one wine. Slightly hot on
the back end of the palate but all in all, a very good wine.
2005 Cliff Lede Cinnamon Starburst (4.5) (87)
HASR’s last bottle which was purchased by a taster and promptly uncorked for all tasters to try.
Concentrated sweet red and black fruit on the nose with a rich mouth feel of concentrated fruit
and silky tannins and a long finish.
2006 Ghost Block Cabernet Sauvignon (4.5)
Produced by Bonded Winery #9 which is a family owned portfolio of distinct wines trying to
express the individual “terroir” of each vineyard.
Concentrated ripe red fruit on the nose with an excellent balance of red fruit and silky tannins
on the palate with a seamless flow and a moderately long finish.
Do I plan of purchasing any of these wines? Well, that’s where cost comes into play. A second
factor I always consider is whether these wines will work well with food. Since most of these
wines retail for well over $100, I probably won’t be seeking them out when I am looking for
more “children” to adopt. Since most are also massive in structure, they probably won’t pair
with most foods (and for yours truly, it’s also about the food, company and music). The Linne
Calodo probably would pair with rich Middle Eastern dishes but there are many great wine
pairings for less than $90 so it’s probably off of my shopping list. The only wine I’ll be seeking is
the Ghost Block, at $50 it was the cheapest of the “Giants” and did seem to have the capacity to
age. Do I plan on attending another HASR Wine Co high end tasting? You betcha! If not just to
taste limited production wines, then at least to also share the bounty of my cellar with fellow
gracious, enthusiastic wine tasters.
In the Presence of Giants