On one of our last nights in Bend, we had dinner at Jackalope Grill. Our group had received an inside tip from a Bend local, suggesting that we call the restaurant in advance to order its famed elk tenderloin. We heeded this advice, and with our menu selection confirmed, we got to the restaurant early and decided to sit at the bar. Our goal was to order a bottle of wine we could enjoy a glass of while we waited for our table, and one that we could finish with the elk.
Value, quality, and comfort led us to the 2013 Hall Napa Valley Merlot. We have been fans of Hall wines for many years so we thought we’d be traitors to Oregon wines for one night, particularly since we wanted something bold and a bit tannic to go with the elk. All I can say is, WOW, both for the wine and food. The wine drank well on its own, and also paired beautifully with the elk. This particular bottle is a Cab lovers’ Merlot, which is inky, full of fruit and has soft tannins. And, it is one of Hall’s more widely distributed offerings, which means we can easily stock our cellar with it when we get home (you can get it for ~$30, depending on the retailer). However, since finding elk may be a different story, we plan to savor this one again with any other cut of red meat.
No, that’s not a Jackalope
There is only one other place we have enjoyed Hall’s wines more than at Jackalope. And, that would be where it is born and bred in Napa. Whenever we visit the Napa Valley region, we typically have Hall on the itinerary and highly recommend it to anyone planning a tour through this gorgeous region. Hall’s wine portfolio includes fruit from 13 of the 16 Napa Valley appellations, which offers a great opportunity to sample the nuances of Napa’s terroir. In addition, Hall has two spectacular locations, one in St. Helena, and the other at the top of Rutherford Hill, both of which offer an extraordinary wine tasting experience.
When you visit Hall’s St. Helena property and are traveling along Highway 29, you are welcomed by the gleaming Bunny Foo Foo, which is a 35-foot tall stainless steel jackalope, I mean rabbit, that marks the entrance to the recently renovated property. Admittedly, during my last visit, I thought I would miss the old, charming tasting room that we had grown fond of over the years. However, it’s hard not to be in awe over the new facility whose star attraction is its bright, airy tasting room surrounded by soaring floor to ceiling windows. Pictures just don’t do it justice. Sipping Hall wines amidst the panoramic views of the Mayacama Mountains is not a bad way to spend the afternoon, whether in the tasting room or down on the outdoor patio.
Not All Grapes are Created Equal
At the Rutherford Hill location, swirling Hall’s limited production wine under the magnificent Swarovski-studded chandelier is a unique and incredible experience. And, obsessive compulsive types will marvel over the tour of the clean-enough-to-lick-the-floor production area and the optical grape sorter, which practically defines order and perfection. Unlike the traditional manual grape sorting method, Hall’s optical sorter compares grapes moving along a conveyor belt against a pre-programmed picture of the perfect, acceptable grape. If there isn’t a match … POOF! A puff of air mercilessly kicks the grape off the belt and into oblivion. No wimpy grapes allowed. ‘Nuff said.