Hedges Family Estate (HFE) was established in 1987. It says so right on the label. They began purchasing grapes, but soon after bought 50 acres on Red Mountain, one the smallest American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in the country located in southeast Washington State, and planted it to Bordeaux varietals. As of 2008, HFE is a Demeter Certified Biodynamic farm. HFE continues to be a family-run operation headed by proprietors Tom and Anne-Marie Hedges, with daughter Sarah as assistant winemaker, son Christophe blazing the trail with his innovative marketing and Tom’s brother Pete as head winemaker. It’s only been in the last couple years that I’ve become aware of Hedges, finding myself impressed by their Estate-grown Red Mountain red. It’s primarily a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with some Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Malbec thrown in for good measure. In my endless quest for high quality, interesting Cabernets with distinctive flavor profiles in the sub-$25 category, Hedges delivers … and then some. The 2008 Estate Red Mountain is dense, powerful, and has structure that is defined by fine tannins. I wouldn’t call this an oak bomb, but the oak is there and makes its presence known; I like the way it matches the fruit. It doesn’t at all come off like I’d been sitting in front of a bonfire. What I do get is rich oaky fancy flavors that supplement the concentrated red berry fruit. It’s December and if I’m lucky, I’ll be eating Prime Rib on more than one occasion and I plan onsharing the HFE’s 2008 Estate Red Mountain with my dining companions.
To compliment their Estate red, Hedges makes a lively Chardonnay under a label they call House of Independent Producers (HIP). With HIP they harken back to the old days, purchasing fruit from some of the more unique vineyards in Washington State. The 2010 Chardonnay comes from a vineyard named Dionysus that was planted in the early 70s! Completely un-oaked, this Chardonnay has crisp green apple, citrusy flavors that finish with a surprising amount of liveliness and attack. With Dungeness crab season underway, I can’t help but salivate thinking of the excellent pairing the HIP Chardonnay would make. No oak to mar the sweetness of the crab, but still enough body to hold up to the crustacean. It is my good fortune that my Sicilian-born father-in-law is well connected to a few fishermen at the wharf and makes an amazing white-sauced crab Cioppino. It really is beginning to look at lot like Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas, please note that we will open two Sundays this month, December 11 and December 18 from 10-4pm. We are continuing our Anniversary Sale through the end of the month so there is plenty of savings opportunities left and with back-to-back containers having docked from France and Italy, we have a plethora of new wines to delight and tantalize you through the New Year.

Anya Balistreri