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April 2006

Virtual Tasting Room:

Patz & Hall Open A Tasting Space —
At Last

By Thom Elkjer

It’s been almost 18 years in coming, but the four-way partnership known as Patz & Hall finally has a venue where you can meet the principals and taste some of the most consistently excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in northern California. James Hall, Anne Moses, Don Patz and Heather Patz cranked it up in 1988 with a hold-your-breath business model: don’t own vineyards, pay top dollar for great fruit from name-brand growers, make killer wine, and pray that people love you even if there’s no winery or estate for them to visit. It worked, and now hundreds of labels follow the model.

The Patz & Hall “Tasting Salon” is in the Napa Valley Corporate Park, on the eastern edge of Napa convenient to Highway 29. Yes, it’s a non-traditional address, but these people know from non-traditional. Hours are 10-4 Wednesday through Sunday; phone ahead (877.265.6700) for directions or visit the website at Here are some wines to look for in Spring of 2006:

Patz & Hall Chardonnay

Chardonnay Napa Valley 2004 ($36): full-bodied but not fleshy, engaging but not overtly outgoing, with open-ended, multi-layered aromas and a round, honeyed mouthfeel. Reminds me why people went gaga for California Chardonnay in the first place.

Patz & Hall Chardonnay Durrell

Chardonnay Sonoma Valley Durrell Vineyard 2004 ($40): bright, incise aromas of apples, pears, peapods and pineapples make you want to sip now. The wine is rewardingly plush in your mouth, as the tropical and citric dimensions meld into the applesauce and pear nectar. Will be even wonderfuller in 2-3 years – if you can wait.

Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2004 ($36): typically coastal dark berry aromas and flavors with some coffee and chocolate notes from toasted oak. Goes plumier and spicier in your mouth, layers on the texture with tongue-coating tannins and good-gripping acidity, and finishes forever. Proves you don’t have to hammer Sonoma Coast Pinot with oak or extraction to make an impression.

Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Hyde Vineyard

Pinot Noir Napa Valley Hyde Vineyard 2004 ($55): would remind you of classic French Burgundy except that the original models are rarely this flawless -- or delivered at nearly 15% alcohol. True varietal character in the aromas and flavors, an impressive flood of fruit as it enters your mouth, and a cool dense core of flavor all through the midpalate and deep into the finish. Beautiful now and a slam dunk to dazzle in/after 2010.


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