Hawk and Horse Selections from Lake County

Hawk and Horse is a family-owned and operated, certified biodynamic vineyard located in the Mayacamas Mountain range of the Red Hills AVA of Lake County.  Red Hills is one of the six sub-appellations of Lake County. The 18 acre, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard has red volcanic soils and straddles elevations from 1800 to 2200 feet with slopes of 15% to 85%.  It has been Demeter-Biodynamic certified since 2008 and California Certified Organic since 2004. A herd of Scottish Highland cattle provides materials for some of the biodynamic farming protocols.

The Hawk and Horse winery was founded in 1999 by the Boies and Hawkins families. The first release was the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon. We tasted Cabernet Sauvignon from three different vintages for this article. While most of these vintages were drought-impacted, the vineyard has ample water resources from site springs and small lakes for drip irrigation.  Taken together we find the Cabernets to be less ripe and lower in alcohol than ones we’ve tasted in some other regions of California. This tasting whets our appetite to try wines from other Lake County producers to see if this style reflects the region’s terroir. The consulting winemaker at Hawk and Horse is Dick Peterson, previously winemaker at Beaulieu and Atlas Peak Vineyards, and the winemaker is Tracey Hawkins.  Mitch Hawkins is vineyard manager.

The Wines

Hawk and Horse 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Block Three Red Hills Lake County 92  More elegant than blockbuster, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is our favorite of the three vintages we tasted. The bouquet is redolent of dark cassis complemented by notes of earth and underbrush. There’s a lovely, silky texture to the mouthfilling palate and nice integration of blackberry fruit and toasted oak.  The tannins are still youthful but ripe. A wine that will only improve with a couple of years bottle age.

Hawk and Horse 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Hills Lake County ($75) 91  Offering an earthy, herbal bouquet with black and red currant notes that carry over to the full bodied palate. There’s good acidity and freshness, nicely concentrated black currant and licorice flavors and well integrated oak. Finishes with fine, round tannins.  Includes 2% Petit Verdot and matured 23 months in 90% new French oak.

Hawk and Horse 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Hills Lake County ($70) 90+ Showing a multifaceted bouquet of dark red fruit and earthy tobacco, the 2013 Cab is a bit lighter than the 2016 vintage, but it offers lots of sweet dark fruit flavors accompanied by notes of pepper and tobacco. There’s well integrated oak and a persistent finish with solid tannins. A great steak wine.  Blended with 3% Petit Verdot and matured 23 months in 80% new French oak.

Hawk and Horse 2015 Petite Sirah  Red Hills Lake County ($60) 90   Sourced from a high altitude, one acre single mountain vineyard, the Petite Sirah offers lively, fresh aromas and flavors of spicy boysenberry, black cherry and herbs. It’s silky on the attack with a chewy density on a fruit driven, richly flavored palate. Finishes with firm, round but somewhat dry tannins.

Hawk and Horse 2013 Latigo Red Hills Lake County ($50/375ml) 92  Latigo is a late harvested Cabernet Sauvignon fortified to 17.9% alcohol with oak aged brandy. It’s a richly flavored, Port-like, lightly sweet wine with good complexity and freshness. It delivers aromas and flavors that evoke dark cherries, chocolate shavings, dates and an appealing floral note. The tannins are suave, and the rich flavors linger forever on the finish. 130 g/L RS Aged 29 months in New Allier oak barriques.

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