2014 Hourglass III
Current Vintage Overview
The third year of California’s current drought cycle, 2014 was marked by a dry warm spring with early bud break and an even, warm summer. Harvest was on the early side, but not as early as 2015. Much of a vine’s hormonal cues are driven by soil and climate conditions in the spring. Soil temperature, available nutrients, available water and timing all interact with the plant to trigger its growth cycle and crop loads. Moreover, berry sizing is a function of these conditions. As a great deal of structure, flavor and aromatics are contained in the berry skins, small berries generally lead to improved density, richness and brighter aromas. As a result, the 2014 spring conditions contributed to smaller berry sizes and crop loads, and ultimately a fantastic grape chemistry. While not as tannic a vintage as 2013 yet more tannic than ‘12, 2014 as a whole fell right between ‘12 and ‘13 in terms of the balance of mouthfeel and aromatics. The ‘14s lean more toward the bright high toned aromatics of ‘12, yet with some, if not all, the density of ‘13. Ideally balanced, 2014 is reminiscent of the ‘01 wines, some of the most well preserved of their decade, tracking much like a mid ‘70s vintage. We can only hope 2014 follows in that vein.
In a state like California, there are few benefits to drought, yet the art of crafting extraordinary wines is one significant exception. Some of the mid ‘70s vintages, also grown during a drought cycle, remain legendary for the longevity and freshness their classic structural core provides. 2012, ’13 and ’14 vintages could play out much like those ‘70s vintages. While differing in character, 2012, ’13 and ’14 share a freshness of fruit expression and a tightly woven inner structural core—critical to a red wine’s age-ability. It stands to reason these vintages will hold up very well, long into the future.
The 2014 HG III has all the hallmark characteristics of a classic vintage wound into a very enjoyable and approachable wine upon release. Bounding aromas of fresh vibrant fruit—black and Bing cherry, blackberries and pomegranate—mingle with elevated notes of roasted hazel nut and toasted vanilla bean to create an explosive and compelling aromatic. Layers of fruit, crossing a spectrum of red and black berries, incorporate the finest elements of blending Merlot, Cabernet and Petit Sirah (the “III” of HG III): Merlot for a supple and sleek mid palate texture; Cabernet for core structure and extended finish; and the “secret sauce” of Petit Sirah for depth and layering. An unmistakable hint of dark chocolate yields a richness that beautifully complements a bright, pure fruit character. The firm tannins of Cabernet provide just enough structure, while the mouthfeel driven by Merlot is decidedly lush and seductive. The blend finishes strong with expansive and lingering notes.
There is ample structural core for this wine to age, but by design, it delivers at the pull of the cork. Why get complicated? Cook up a killer bowl of pasta or grill a steak. Fill a glass and enjoy life!
~ Jeff Smith, March 2016