Cabernet Sauvignon from Lake County’s Hawk and Horse Vineyard: 2008-2016

Hawk and Horse is a family-owned and operated, Demeter-Biodynamic certified vineyard located in the Mayacamas Mountain range of the Red Hills AVA of Lake County [see map below].  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%. Hawk and Horse’s first Cabernet Sauvignon vintage was 2004. In this article, we review vintages from 2008-2016. The 2008-2010 vintages are currently being sold online as a Library Reserve Trio for $330.

The Hawk and Horse winery was founded in 1999 by the Boies and Hawkins families. The consulting winemaker at Hawk and Horse is Dick Peterson, previously winemaker at Beaulieu and Atlas Peak Vineyards. A herd of Scottish Highland cattle provides materials for some of the biodynamic farming protocols.

The Red Hills in Lake County are well suited to the production of  high quality Cabernet Sauvignon.  High elevations and volcanic soils provide ideal growing condition for elegant and concentrated wines.  Hawk and Horse is among the leading Cabernet Sauvignon producers in the region and has been crafting excellent quality wines over the years as revealed in our reviews. These wines offer ripe dark fruit with hints of earth and concentrated flavors.   They also reveal firm tannins when young and need time in the bottle to show their full potential.   Our favorite in this vertical tasting was the 2010 vintage which is still quite youthful and indicative of the age worthy character of these fine wines.

The Wines

The vintages marked by an asterisk were reviewed in our previous article on Hawk and Horse.

*Hawk and Horse 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Block Three Red Hills Lake County 92  More elegant than blockbuster, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is  an excellent wine. The bouquet is redolent of dark cassis complemented by notes of earth and underbrush. There’s a lovely, silky texture to the mouth filling 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 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Lake County ($75) 92 Saturated ruby. The bouquet reveals explosive cassis and cedar aroma. The palate is silky and dense with sweet, expansive dark fruit flavors and a light earthy note. Well focused and tightly structured with still firm tannins finishing with lingering rich dark red fruit notes. A youthful wine begging for a bit more time in cellar. 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc matured 23 months in 80% new French oak. 14.3% alc.

*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 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Lake County 94 Medium dark garnet. This is by far our favorite of the 2008-2010 Library Reserve Trio. It has an enticing, multifaceted nose of cassis, sweet oak, and a hint of forest floor. The palate has a velvet texture and is densely flavored and elegant with fine-grained tannins. Still a youthful wine with a long life ahead. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 21 months in 90% new French oak; 14.1% alc.

Hawk and Horse 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Lake County 92  Garnet red. Ripe dark red berry and plum with vanilla and cedar show on the nose. Richer and fuller than the 2008 vintage, it’s softer on the attack with more notable ripeness than the 2010. Attractive cedary spice is married to spicy huckleberry, plum and cassis on the palate. There are fine firm tannins on the finish. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon matured 23 months in 100% new French oak. 14.8% alc.

Hawk and Horse 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Lake County 90 The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon shows earth and dark red berries on the nose. It’s a bit lighter in weight with less fruit than the younger vintages of this wine, but it’s well balanced with firm, round tannins. Fruit and oak are well integrated, and it’s drinking nicely now. A blend of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Merlot aged 18 months in 50% new French oak. 14.1% alc.

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