Wine Reviews: HLR Cellars

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-11-2018

Credit: HLR Cellars

Credit: HLR Cellars

On the border between Napa and Sonoma Counties, about a mile from Diamond Mountain, sits a lesser-known appellation: the Fountaingrove District. This area of Sonoma (which achieved AVA status in 2015) is where H.L.R. Cellars calls home.

Started in 2012 by Steve and Joan Heller, H.L.R. Cellars grows Bordeaux varieties in their estate vineyards, which are planted at about 1,300 feet in elevation. I had never heard of this producer before, but I’m always on the look for new (to me) producers from Sonoma and Napa, so I was excited to uncork these samples and give them a whirl.

I lined up the wines (a Cab, a Malbec, a Merlot, and two red blends) and single-blind tasted them. As I was typing up my notes, I did a double-take when I was looking at the prices. All of the wines clock in at $45 or less, and they bring a lot of deliciousness, but also a lot of depth, structure and excitement. That’s not always easy to find.

My notes below.

2015 HLR Cellars Hella•NoraCalifornia, Sonoma County, Fountaingrove District
SRP: $39
Light purple color. Nose of roasted figs, plums, currant paste along with cocoa, vanilla and sweet espresso. Full and suave on the palate, chewy, fleshy, tangy, a nice combination. Tart black currant and roasted figs with expresso, cocoa, cedar and vanilla, hints of earthy-clove and tobacco. Plush and rich but stays lively, too. Yum. 40% Malbec, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot, aged 21 months in French and American oak. (89 points)

HLR2015 HLR Cellars Hella•liciousCalifornia, Sonoma County, Fountaingrove District
SRP: $39
Light purple color. Spicy nose of pepper and wild herbs on top of rich black and red currant fruit, notes of earth, smoke and cedar. Full-bodied but lovely freshness from the acidity, and the tannins provide some structure but remain smooth around the edges. Tangy red and black currant fruit with smoky herbs, black pepper, along with sweet cocoa, vanilla and coffee grounds. Absolutely delicious, but it has complexity and vibrancy going for it as well. Cabernet Sauvignon with 27% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot aged 21 months in 50% new French oak. (90 points)

2015 HLR Cellars MerlotCalifornia, Sonoma County, Fountaingrove District
SRP: $39
Rich purple color. Bold but tangy fruit (red and black currants) with eucalyptus, mint, cocoa and sweet herbs. Full and suave on the palate, tangy acid over velvety tannins, and tart red currant mixes with saucy black cherry. Notes of eucalyptus, charcoal and mint chocolate chip, this has earthy-savory tones too. So vibrant on the finish. Aged 24 months in 44% new French and American oak. (91 points)

2015 HLR Cellars MalbecCalifornia, Sonoma County, Fountaingrove District
SRP: $45
Rich purple. Nose shows tart black cherries, plums and boysenberry with mint, vanilla, violets and cedar. Full and big with chewy tannins but moderating acidity as well. Plums, roasted figs, boysenberry, waves of juicy dark fruit, backed up with violets, eucalyptus, mint, coffee, roasted chestnut. Rich and flavorful but stays smooth and lively. Aged 26 months in all new French and American oak. (90 points)

2015 HLR Cellars Cabernet SauvignonCalifornia, Sonoma County, Fountaingrove District
SRP: $45
Light purple color. I love the spicy elements on the nose (pepper, paprika, bay leaf) on top of tart red and black currants, with notes of loamy earth, campfire, pine resin, really cool vibes on the nose. Full but so pretty on the palate with structured but rounded tannins and fresh acidity. Gorgeous, plush black cherries, currants and plums, juicy but crisp fruit, backed up by spicy pepper, paprika, grilled herbs, smoky barbecue. Notes of vanilla and wood fit in nicely into the overall package. Pretty now but I’d love to see in five to seven years. Aged 25 months in a mix of French and American oak, about 50% new. (92 points)

Comments are closed.