Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Hagafan Cellars, a Napa Valley gem found along the Silverado Trail in the Napa Valley. Taste their Prix Reserve 2009 Napa Valley White Riesling, a wine reported to be a perfect Summertime sipper. If the wine is exceptional, secure an allocation for our growing base of Riesling-loving Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Prix Vineyards (Hagafen Cellars)
Wine Subject: Prix Reserve 2009 Napa Valley White Riesling
Winemaker: Ernie Weir
Backgrounder: Hagafen Cellars produces a diverse selection of prized varietals while remaining a hidden gem among wine industry giants. Nestled along the Silverado Trail in the exciting Stags Leap District, Hagafen Cellars is a gold medal-winning winery that crafts small lots of distinctive and delicious wines. Today’s special Riesling was limited to a 400 case production.
Varietal Backgrounder: Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas. The varietals high acidity makes it a wonderful food companion.
Riesling is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally pure and are seldom oaked. As of 2004, Riesling was estimated to be the world’s 20th most grown variety at 48,700 hectares (120,000 acres) but in terms of importance for quality wines, it is usually included in the top three white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Riesling is a variety which is highly terroir-expressive, meaning that the character of Riesling wines is clearly influenced by the wine’s place of origin. Today’s Napa Valley Riesling is a refreshing, sweet, complex and well-balanced wine that deserves your attention.
Look – Perfect clarity through a pale golden yellow heart of the wine. After swirling, short, chubby legs move slowly down the glass wall.
Smell – Sweet, earthy and very aromatic, lead by orange blossom, jasmine, creamed wildflower honey and young citrus. As the wine warms, it opens up, revealing dried white flowers, dried earth and slate.
Feel – Voluptuous and round with a satiny feel that glides across the entire palate. After a few moments, softest tannin and bright acids combine to give drive flavors and a light minerality (slate) to the far corners of the mouth.
Taste – Balanced between sweet, tart and softly earthy, this complex Riesling delivers creamed lavender honey, orange blossom, sweet citrus, pear, minerals and a hint of fresh apricot.
Finish – Long and full of flavor, with sweet flavors gently yielding to flavors of flowers, soft slate and apricot.
Conclusion – Sweet, delicious and with just the right amount of complexity, this is a very lush, elegant, soft and easy-drinking wine. Certainly on the sweet side, this is a wine that can be served as a pre-meal aperitif or with the dessert course. I paired mine with a spicy Thai meal. It was absolutely perfect, cutting the spice and cleansing the palate between bites. The finish is persistent and sweet, with just the right amount of dryness at the tail end. Our entire tasting panel fell in love with this wine, which we enjoyed during a special outdoor tasting on a sweltering Wine Country afternoon. Buy some for summer, but be sure to stock some for the Holidays. This wine gets our heartiest recommendation.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Ernie. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Prix Napa Valley Reserve White Riesling today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ERNIE WEIR: It is great to be back with you, once again, Red.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ERNIE: I have always had an attraction to this revered beverage.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ERNIE: I was enamored with the wines of Louis Martini in the 70s as I recall
RED: Who do you make wine for?
ERNIE: Most decidedly, we produce wines for consumers to enjoy
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ERNIE: Our 2009 Prix Napa Valley Reserve White Riesling is Estate Bottled from our Vichy Ave ranch, where the grapes for this delicious wine are organically grown.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ERNIE: Fire and Ice! That is flavorful, spicy, Asian cuisine.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Valley so special?
ERNIE: The southern half of Napa Valley with its cool nights is ideal for the longer ripening needed to develop the fruity esters.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ERNIE: We’re already prepping for harvest!
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
ERNIE: Take it easy, do not fear and enjoy
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
ERNIE: Make sure to share the wine with someone you enjoy, the experience will be one worth remembering
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
The location of the Hagafen Cellars Estate vineyards and winery can be seen in this satellite photo.