Bacon and wine. Is there anything better? This past weekend marked the release of the 2014 vintages at HdV Winery. In addition to tasting some fantastic wines, the staff at HdV and their caterers laid out an impressive assortment of cheeses, charcuterie, and, yes, a whole pig. If you have not added HdV to your “must visit” list yet, well, you must. I realize there are somewhere between 400 and 500 wineries in the Napa Valley, and, no matter how hard you try, you can’t get to all of them. This one, though, is truly one of the best. For those not familiar with HdV, here’s the quick low-down: the “H” stands for Hyde – Larry Hyde, to be exact. Known as the “King of Carneros,” Larry Hyde farms over 140 acres of prime vines in the Carneros A.V.A., known for having a cooler and breezier climate best suited for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Larry’s passion is growing grapes, which he does for a couple of dozen Napa and Sonoma wineries, including Patz & Hall, Hobbs, Duckhorn, Mondavi, Ramey, and Kistler. Not a bad pedigree, I’m sure you’ll agree. The “dV” in “HdV” has an equal if not more weighty reputation – Aubert de Villaine is the co-owner of Domaine de la Romanee Conti in Burgundy, France. In the world of wine, the Domaine is usually just referred to as “DRC.” You could try your luck finding a bottle at auction, or next time you’re up in Napa, round out your dinner at the French Laundry with a bottle of the 2009 Crand Cru. Bottle price? $25,000. I’m pretty sure they don’t sell it by the glass. So, HdV – Hyde and de Villaine – a New World and Old World powerhouse that decided to combine local vineyard mastery with generations of European wine making prowess. The result is wines that are not always as bold, fruity or alcohol-rich as wines in Napa can be. In our view, though, the wines has a bit more finesse although still very rich in flavor and complexity.
If you missed the release party, don’t fret, you can visit by appointment any day of the week. If you live in the area or have passed through Napa, you may have driven by without even knowing it. The tasting room is located on Trancas Street in Napa, just west of Silverado Trail, with only a small sign at the road to mark the entrance. When you arrive for your tasting, you’ll probably meet Eddie Townsend, one of the coolest and nicest people in the wine business. A certified sommelier, he certainly has the wine cred but also knows how to bring it down to the level of those of us that are lower on the wine learning curve. I can’t promise that you’ll find a whole pig there when you go; in fact, I’m pretty sure you will not. But you will enjoy being in the barrel room, the time spent with Eddie, and getting to taste high quality wines that (mostly) sell for prices that are below the Napa average for wines of similar caliber. We like all of the wines but, if forced to pick one to take with us to a desert island, would put the Syrah slightly above the rest.