Hourglass has always been heavily influenced by a sense of place, what the French deem terroir. As we have expanded to encompass two dramatic vineyards (the original Hourglass Vineyard & the new Blueline Vineyard), our objective remains the same - to craft highly expressive wines reflective of their unique sense of place. But it is more than just a sense of place. It is the human interaction with that place that makes wine unique and special. Vines do not simply grow themselves into amazing wines. They must be coached and encouraged along the way by ever talented people such as our winemaking team of Tony Biagi and Efren DeHaro, and the vineyard management of people like Kelly Maher and Josh Clark, whose collective wisdom has a dramatic affect on the outcome on what you experience.
The convergence of soil, weather, geography and the human hand are what you taste every time you pull the cork from one of our wines. Part splendor of nature, part art, part science, wine is a complex web of relationships that yield the final result. Change the web and you change the profile. But what exactly does all this mean and how does human interaction work in concert in this dance with mother nature? What does that yield in our wines?
Working backward from the table where an open bottle first reveals itself, we seek to deliver a unique experience. Aromatically, any bottle of Hourglass must intoxicate and beguile. It must arouse your senses and draw you in. Aroma is a signature and a critical one at that. Whether it is the dark sour cherry and Mandarin of our Merlot, the floral violets and rose petals of Cab Franc, the earthy, minty, cassis and black licorice of Cabernet, the game and spice of Petit Verdot, or the high toned citrus notes of Malbec, all our wines are punctuated by dramatic aromas. This is both mother nature’s gift of rocky mineral rich soils as much as it is a concerted effort to manage the vines to deliver smaller berries (yielding higher skin to juice ratios and elevating flavor and aromatic concentration), the decisions regarding optimal ripeness, the thought process governing fermentation protocols, the nature of what barrels to use, how long to age, etc.
On the palate, a young Hourglass wine must jump and sing, an older wine must tease and intrigue. In either case, all things must be in their right place with the right dimension - balance, balance, balance. Explosive fruit must be framed, layered with earthy dimensions and polished textures, to create a seamless integration start to finish.
This is the art of winemaking and why Tony Biagi is so well suited to it. In our opinion he is one of the most balanced left brain / right brain individuals we have ever happened upon. His personality influences his decisions, which in turn flow through his wines. It is no accident that the younger wines exhibit explosive fruit driven flavors yet are balanced against the framework of acidic structure making them both intense and light on their feet at the same time. The grip of tannin is there, but polished on the edges for a silky texture, the result of patience in the field to allow seed and skin maturation to arrive at that perfect moment. We make no quarrel with modestly “higher alcohol” wines, as they are relative to deeper phenolic concentration and explosion of flavor and aromatics, yet this must be balanced against good natural acidity. Oak must be judiciously considered so as not to tread too heavily on the nuances of the vineyard. As it is with each decision, careful consideration is paid to balancing the web of complex relationships.
All of this sums to wines with beckoning aromas, a concentrated fruit core, structured and defined framework, depth of flavor, silky texture and an enduring finish, all in seamless balance. We are fortunate to have two very special vineyards uniquely suited to yield wines of this dynamic and a winemaking team experienced in walking the razors edge in their pursuit of balancing the complex relationships between mother nature, vineyard and winery. .
2012 saw the arrival of Tony Biagi as our winemaker. The move represented an evolution rather than a directional change. Tony and I are big fans of Bob Foley and all the magic he has created with Hourglass over the past 15 years. Through Bob's tenure, our wines were characterized by rich complexity and a silky texture favoring deep, brooding black fruits.
Tony is like-minded in seeking that richness, and also looks to layer in tones from tangy red fruits, balancing depth with vibrant acidity and minerality - the Holy Grail of winemaking. Tony's approach is a unique hybrid, fusing classicism with modernity, which we believe is the perfect temperament to coax the magic from our vineyards in wines that beckon with heady aromatics, integrate classical structure with verve and lift, complex layers and textural suppleness.
2012 was Tony’s first full harvest at Hourglass, and what a great year to get started. The vintage will be remembered above all for tempered weather and the balanced wine chemistry that such weather brings. It reminds us of 2001 which remains one of our favorite vintages. A long growing season with many low to mid 80 degree days and cool evenings allowed for slow phenolic maturation, and great color development with good acidity. The balanced chemistry delivered wines with a wide range of flavors across the red to black fruit spectrum and rich layering balanced with the brightness of acidity. The wines are classically structured with refined and tightly integrated tannins, as well as fresh and vibrant fruit. The precision of this vintage is what we find so striking, a precision that should translate to great cellar-worthiness.
The 2012 vintage will be remembered for its balance and precision, with Hourglass Estate Cabernet Sauvignon exhibiting a feline grace to match its power. Aromatically, the traditional markers of camphor and mint are there, but more subtle than previous vintages. What compels about the 2012 is a high-toned rose petal scent followed by cascading aromas of tangy pomegranate and other red fruits, earthy minerality from the iron-rich Hambright soils, and finally deep tones of toasty wood smoke. Hourglass Estate Cab has always been noted for its exotic aromatics, but in phenolically-balanced vintages it elicits an extra band at the top end of the floral spectrum.
Classically structured tannins frame the core of the wine, providing a glimpse into its significant aging potential. Texturally, the wine maintains a fine balance between grip and silk, with enough width and depth to remind you of its Napa origins, and enough elegance to evoke the refinement of the Old World. Notes of pomegranate, dark sour cherry, savory black currant and cassis surround the core with firm, soft flesh. A deep richness is evident, restrained against the pull of a natural acidity and minerality, providing both lift and layered density. The extended finish begs for contemplation. This wine will cellar beautifully for 20-plus years, promising still more exotic nuances as it approaches 2020.
We are extremely proud of Tony Biagi’s debut vintage with our marquee vineyard and consider it one of our best to date.