Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hedges Family Estate, Red Mountain's Guardian

Hedges Family Estate. Do you know this producer, of Red Mountain, Washington? They've made a lot of waves lately for their adamant refusal to accept or deal with scores. Indeed, Hedges Family Estates first came to my attention through their vociferous opposal to assigning numerical scores to wines. Billing themselves as "The Guardians of Red Mountain", Hedges has been up on the mountain producing wine since the late 1980's. When you consider the relative modernity of Washington's wine production, the Hedges family might be called among the pioneers of Red Mountain.

The Hedges story is wonderful, full of romance, determination, dedication, love, respect, and more. The natural skeptic in me goes "this is too good to be true", but on some level, this is the story we all want to believe. It is the story of romance through a wine glass, a truly powerful concept that wine lovers all over the world can connect with. Romance and wine go hand in hand, and at the very least, when you read the Hedges website, you cannot help but get caught up in the aura of a family attempting to create a world class, important authentic, winery here in the Pacific Northwest.

During some discussions via Facebook, I was asked if I'd like to sample any of the Hedges wines. Wanting to see if they made wine that could stand up to the "no score" mantra, I eagerly accepted. A few weeks later, a bottle of their 2009 Hedges CMS Sauvignon Blanc and a 2008 Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain red wine were dropped off by my awesome UPS guy. After resting for about five weeks, I eagerly opened each to taste it and take some notes.

2009 Hedges CMS Sauvignon Blanc: A white blend, 77% sauvignon blanc, 20% chardonnay, and 3% marsanne,all from the Columbia Valley. This white blend saw no oak, with each wine fermented entirely in stainless steel. Pours a nice greenish-golden straw color with surprising vibrancy. The resulting blend is very interesting, with notes of perfume, green apple, pear, honeycomb, and melon. I thought the bouquet to be somewhat disjointed and too linear though, with aromatics battling each other for supremacy. On the palate the sauvignon blanc provides a steely acid and citrus note, the other grapes providing some pear, white peach, and floral elements. Just like the bouquet, the palate presence was clunky and the flavor transition could have been smoother. Still, for about $14, this is a very intersting, fun wine to drink and I recommend picking up a bottle or two. I plan on buying some to try pairing with roasted chicken or sushi. 13.5% abv, 10,400 cases produced.

2008 Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain: Each year this red blend is made up predominantly of cabernet sauvignon and merlot. The 2008 is 36% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot, 14% syrah, 11% cabernet franc, 6% malbec. Let me just state that for $25 it is very hard to find a wine this good. It pours an inky dark purple into the glass. The different varietals present form a bouquet of dark chocolate, graphite, tar, blackberry and cherry, and cigar box. I felt as if each whiff contained some new aroma. I expected a tannic monster, based on the blend, color, and age, yet this is a very smooth wine. Yes, the tannin is presenet but it's well integrated and not dominating. The acidity present does a great job holding the ripe core of black and red fruit in check. I liked the mid-palate tar and tobacco notes that transitioned into a dark chocolate streak right through the finish. Overall, a very impressive wine at a suitably impressive price.

Out of respect for what the Hedges family is trying to do with their anti-score position, I am not going to rate these wines. I will give them each a STRONG BUY recommendation and suggest you pick up multiple bottles of each to enjoy as we move into 2012.

You can connect with Hedges on Facebook and their Twitter account. To order these wines, visit the Hedges website or your local retailer.

The wines were sent as media samples from Hedges Family Estate.

Beau Carufel


  1. Glad to see this write up. I'm impressed at how this winery seems to deliver good QPR consistently. I love that it drinks and feels like a wine well outside of the $20 price point. I lucked out in MN and scored a bottle of theirs from 01 that we should get into some time.

  2. Dan thanks for commenting, I would love to try that 01 anytime you want! I will bring a bottle of the 05 or something else from Red Mountain. :)