2021 Hourglass Winery “HGIII” Proprietary Red Blend, Napa Valley.
The dark, rich and full bodied HGIII is a blend of mainly Merlot, but with a good dose of Petit Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon, all coming from the Hourglass Estate vines and made by the respected winemaker Tony Biagi, who I have followed since his early days. The final blend changes on this one each vintage, but you can see each component coming through here, even though the Merlot is fully in control here and the rich layering of the palate leans into a sense of a ripe Saint-Emillon with dark fruit, delicate florals, smooth tannin and sweet cedary wood accents leading the way. Better as it opens up in the glass this inky opaque HGIII hints at violets and acacia flowers, blueberry and creme de cassis with a core of blackberry, currant and kirsch, as well as having a touch of graphite, anise, sage and shaved vanilla. The year’s lengthy growing season and natural acidity really helps keep things fresh and nicely balanced, reminding me of the best from the 2014 vintage in Napa Valley, it helps make the flavors pop and the finish is very impressive too, lingering on and on with dark berry fruit, especially good with hard cheeses and or grilled steak.

Tony Biagi, has experience with prestigious wineries such as Plumpjack Estate, where I first knew his wines from, as well as CADE Estate on Howell Mountain, Duckhorn Vineyards, and Sinegal Estate Winery, before he took the helm at Hourglass in 2012, gaining the respect of Napa enthusiasts far and wide, making some top rated stuff, especially here under proprietors Jeff and Carolyn Smith, who fanatically pursue quality. The HGIII is the gateway wine of the Hourglass lineup and is fabulous value, great for drinking young while you wait for the elite bottlings here to mature fully, but still a very serious stand alone wine that very much impresses in this vintage with its depth and balance. The HGIII is crafted using 100 de-stemmed berries that are carefully sorted and macerated in separate small lots by varietal. After the fermentation is dry the wine is racked over to barrel for aging and blending, with this wine seeing 16 months, in a combination of toasty new and a bigger set of used and seasoned French oak. The whole set of Hourglass wines, Cabernet, Merlot and Petite Sirah, estate and Blueline offerings are luxurious and chocolatey dense, easy to enjoy young, but with the complexity and structure to age for 20 or 30 years, while this value priced HGIII is a savvy choice for this winery’s fans.
($50 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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