Every so often I'm sent samples that truly pique my curiosity No grocery-store red blends or cheap California plonk, but real, small production wines from tiny producers in up and coming regions. Hawk and Horse Vineyards is one of those, hailing from the Red Hills AVA of Lake County. Currently there are 18 acres under vine with the majority being cabernet sauvignon planted in 2001. The property is situated on the rolling slopes of Lake County, at elevations ranging from 1,800 to 2,200 feet.
Hawk and Horse Vineyards has been Demeter Certified since 2008 and California Certified Organic (CCOF) since 2004. Both new and used French Oak barrels are used, and production hovers around 1,150 cases of cabernet sauvignon.
Confession: I was sent the 2007 Cabernet and 2006 Latigo a long time ago, but they became lost in the samples shuffle and move to Oregon. I dug them out for our July 4th celebrations (last year), figuring that the cabernet would pair well with Becky's ribs and the dessert wine would be a pleasing accompaniment to the fireworks. The cabernet did pair quite well with Becky's ribs, by the way.
Some months later, I was sent the 2008 Cabernet to taste, and decided to post up a review of all three wines at once, in order to better offer a view of this producer.
Hawk & Horse Vineyards produce a cabernet that I think you should try, if solely to understand what kind of cabernet is possible outside of Napa Valley. Then again, trying a wine solely for that reason strikes me as missing the point, especially the point of wines like this. They're wines of the land, baring their souls as rugged, strong wines from a distinctly rugged place.
The impressive structure and sheer age-worthiness of these wines excite me. They're a bit rustic around the edges to be sure, and I think could benefit from maybe a bit more intervention in the wine-making process, but there is also a sense of beauty to each wine. Both the 2007 and 2008 beg for more time in bottle, and if you grant them such time, you'll be rewarded.
Even the Latigo, that strange beast of a dessert wine, offers a peek into the Hawkins' philosophy of life and vitality. I can't help but be impressed with this.
These wines were samples for review purposes.