I've reviewed at least one Hartford Family wine here already, but on a beautiful, sunny Father's day afternoon this week, I took Dad out to spend a little time sipping wine, and decided Hartford would be a good choice for its low key, family run feel and because it's off the beaten path of the main wine routes through Sonoma.
Tucked away off of Highway 116 in an idyllic little valley called Pocket Canyon, Hartford has a beautiful facility surrounded by a few small vineyards (which may or not be theirs. The people at the tasting room were unable to verify). They're open every day for tastings and provide a quiet, surprisingly classy bar and outside patio for sipping their latest releases.
I got a chance to taste their Zinfandels at Zap this year and was hoping to do so again as Dad is a Zinfandel fan but unfortunately they were completely sold out. So we ended up tasting most of their Pinot and Chardonnay lineup.
Note that the prices below are from the winery's tasting room. I would expect to find them about three to eight dollars cheaper than the prices shown.
Their current releases are as follows:
2000 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Nice light yellow gold in the glass with a nose of apricot and butterscotch. Buttercream, new oak, and vanilla on the palate with a nice acidity. $20. Score: 8/8.5
2001 Laura's Sonoma Chardonnay
Blended from several Sonoma Valley single vineyard designates, this one got a 94 from Robert Parker. It's good, but not that good.
Green gold in the glass. Lovely floral nose plus oak, unripe apples, and honey. the palate is all butter and oak but with a nice fruit balance of pears and citrus zest. Good finish. $54. Score: 8.5/9
2002 Three Jacks Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
For nearly $20 less than the Laura's Chard, this is very nearly the same quality of wine. You do the math.
Same color as the Laura's Chardonnay but even more floral on the nose with a strong smell of daisies, unripe apples, and oak. Very smooth on the palate with flavors of buttercream, caramel, pears, and oak. $36. Score: 8.5
2001 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Cinnabar in color, with a dark nose of smoke, earth, and red fruit. In the mouth it is rounder and smoother than the '02 (see below) with flavors of redcurrant, raspberries, and slightly dusty tannins. $25. Score: 8.5
2002 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
This wine is darker than the '01 yet the nose is much weaker, with soft aromas of plum and cedar. The body is flat and not nearly luscious enough with light fruit and herbal flavors and a short finish. $25. Score: 7.5
2001 Seascape Vineyard Pinot Noir
This is a great pinot vineyard. Hartford's version is dark garnet, with an extracted rich nose of cassis, plum, and sawdust with a body of green wood, lush berries, chocolate and vanilla flavors. Excellent. $50. Score: 8.5/9
2000 Velvet Sisters Pinot Noir, Alexander Valley
See my in-depth review of this wine here. Bright beryl red with a surprisingly floral nose of jasmine, bing cherries and a hint of pine. Nice mouthfeel with raspberries, red currants, and a hint of sweet oak. Excellent. $50. Score: 8.5/9
2000 Marin Devils Gulch Vineyard Pinot Noir
Devils Gulch Vineyard is a cold climate site planted with the Mt. Eden clone.
Dark, dark red purple in the glass, heavy and rich nose of plum, black cherry, smoke and cedar. Wonderful mouthfeel and surprisingly restrained and balanced body given the explosion of fruit in the nose with flavors of raspberry, cherry, and wet earth. $50 (and worth it). Score: 9/9.5
1997 "The Comet" Muscat Canelli Dessert Wine
Orange gold in the glass with heavy nose of apricot syrup and orange zest, and these flavors continue in the body of the wine. Lots of residual sugar (10% or something massive like that). Too sweet for my tastes and somewhat one dimensional. $?? . Score: 7.5. They are not making this wine anymore, so the only place to get it is the winery.
There are many other wines in the Hartford lineup including 3 or 4 of their sold out Zinfandels as well as a few other single vineyard designate Pinot Noirs from some other top vineyard sites. Check their website for details and give them a call for availability.
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