Published: June 2009
By Scott Mowbray
Concentration is not hard to find in Napa Valley wines, because the fruit usually throws a punch. But balance is trickier. Napa winemakers often frame their exuberant grapes with too much oak until—in both reds and whites—you get show-offy, florid, ultimately boring wines. Not so at Patz & Hall, a boutique label founded in 1988 that is poured at many fine golf clubs, including Pine Valley and Augusta National. Patz & Hall's single-vineyard chardonnays and pinot noirs display all the va-va-voom traits Napa enthusiasts love, without too much burlesque. I particularly like the 2004 Hyde Vineyard chardonnay ($50; patzhall.com): a lovely, complex nose of pear with a hint of anise, and powerful sweet-tropical flavors that meld with oak to produce, yes, balance. The 2003 pinot noir from the Pisoni Vineyard ($80) needs some time in the cellar, but there is lively acid here, and a hint of earthiness, which suggests that in a few years it will be a beautiful wine. Meanwhile, concentrate on that chardonnay.