Part 10, Washington State: visiting one of North America's leading wine
and Boo Walker, Hedges
what a visit. The energy was good, the people lovely, the wines were
good, and we had a good feed. The sort of visit I love.
Hedges is one of those wineries that has a slightly quirky feel to
it, in a nice way. Look at the labels! The strapline: Guardians of
Red Mountain. This is because Hedges is a champion of the Red
Mountain AVA, where owners Tom Hedges and Anne-Marie Liégois
purchased 40 acres back in 1989 to begin their estate winery.
Hedges name dates back two years earlier than this, to 1987. Tom and
Ann-Marie had just begun an export negociant business called
American Wine Trade. They used the name Hedges Cellars to label a
wine that they'd sourced for a Swedish client. This client wanted a
container of wine that hadn't been affected by Chernobyl fall out,
and so the Hedges sourced a Cabernet/Merlot from Washington State
for them. This was enough to get Tom and Anne-Marie into the
Washington wine business – they began buying fruit, then vineyards,
and finally they built their own winery in 1995.
Anne-Marie hails from the Champagne region. Marcel Dupont, her
grandfather, was involved in the French Resistance, and his name
turns up on one of the wines.
Anne-Marie's daughter, Sarah Goedhart, is now the chief winemaker.
Her older brother Christophe is the general manager, and he also
designs the labels. The wines here are made in quite a European
style. 'We tend to stay below 14% alcohol and harvest earlier than
others,' she explains. 'We're never really chasing high scores. We
are looking for subtlety and finesse.'
These days, Hedges have 120 acres planted on Red Mountain, and
around 10% of the fruit is sold. They've begun moving their
vineyards to biodynamics, and 40% of the area is now farmed this
way. 'We're all in on biodynamics,' says Boo Walker, communications
director, who hosted our visit along with Sarah. Boo is a celebrated
banjo player and has also written novels. He gave me a signed copy
of his latest, which was a nice touch.
wine portfolio divides in two. There are wines from bought-in fruit,
and then there are the Hedges Family Estate wines. Both sets of
wines are really good, and they also represent great value for
Hedges HIP Chardonnay 2012 Columbia Valley, Washington State
From the Dionysus Vineyard, this styled on Chablis. Lovely
texture here. Lively and pure with citrus and pear fruit as well as
a bit of subtle spiciness. Very fresh. Unoaked. 90/100
Hedges CMS White 2014 Columbia Valley, Washington State
Sauvignon Blanc. Textured and pure with nice pear and citrus
fruit. Shows finesse with purity and a bit of richness. 89/100
Hedges CMS Red 2012 Columbia Washington State
This was the first commercial red blend out of Washington State,
in 1987. Sweet, supple and warm. Nicely elegant with a bit of
spiciness. Supple and a bit juicy with nice elegance. It's a bit Rhône-like,
Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain 2011 Washington State
Fresh, focused blackcurrant nose with some spiciness. Lovely
fresh style with a European-style blackcurrant, black cherry and
plum fruit palate. This has nice minerally, gravelly structure, and
it's fabulous. 94/100
Goedhart Family Syrah 2011 Red Mountain, Washington State
Sarah Hedges-Goedhart's own garagiste Syrah from the Bel Villa
vineyard. Supple, elegant and fresh with ripe cherry and raspberry
fruit as well as a hint of pepper. There's a nice savoury twist to
this wine which is quite elegant and restrained. 93/100
DLD (Descendants Liegeois Dupont) Syrah 2012 Red Mountain,
Peppery, spicy black fruits nose with lovely freshness. Vital
and peppery with black cherries, minerals and spices. Meaty and
savoury with intense fruit and amazing finesse and detail. Nicely
Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain 2013 Washington State
Lively, sweet, supple and ripe with lovely silky black cherry
and blackberry fruit. Ripe yet stylish with subtle peppery notes.
Quite delicious with some feral hints. 93/100
Hedges Family Estate La Haute Cuvée
2012 Red Mountain, Washington State
This is the first biodynamic Washington State Cabernet, and the
first biodynamic wine from Red Mountain. Sweet, fine, fresh and
quite grippy. Firmly tannic with supple fruit and real density to
the focused blackcurrant fruit. The fruit is sweet, but it has an
attractive savoury twist. Stylish and dense with massive potential.
Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain Reserve 1998 Washington State
Gravelly with hints of mint, blackcurrant and blackberry fruit.
Stylish and gravelly with nice savouriness, and beginning to show
some maturity. Still grippy, this is lovely. 93/100
WASHINGTON STATE WINES
du Cheval Vineyard
with Kevin Pogue
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