Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Seeing Red is Believing at Hector Wine Company (NY)

Jason Hazlitt and Justin Boyette are the co-owners of Hector Wine Company. According to wine writer Adrian Jacquin, "When you talk about Hector Wine Company, it’s essential to have Sawmill Creek Vineyard in the same sentence. Most of HWC’s wine is from (the growers at) Sawmill Creek Vineyard. They really are tied at the hip. In fact, Jason Hazlitt, co-owner of Hector Wine Company, and his extended family have owned the Sawmill Creek land since 1852." Though none of the labels have an single vineyard designate on them.   

I have tasted a line of Hector's wines twice in the last 12 months. Once last July 2017 at their tasting room and then again this last July 2018 at the Finger Lakes wine festival at Watkins Glen where I met briefly Justin Boyette. Alexandra Bond and Justin Boyette are the winemakers at Hector. Justin also makes wines at Forge Cellars. The tasting room was roomy and comfortable.

Justin Boyette

The first thing I tried was the Hector Gewurztraminer Seneca Lake 2015. It had a terrific tropical nose, with lots of apricot and green apple and a floral twist. The flavors were all tropical fruit, green apple, and a sizeable grapefruit, lemon pop at the end. Lovely!

The Hector Sauvignon Blanc Seneca Lake 2016 Was a big citrus bomb from the nose to the final finish. A lovely nose of bright green apple, lemon and orange zest, and a big green apple/lemon finish. A really nice clean white.

The Hector Riesling Seneca Lake 2015 had a lovely nose with tropical notes and green apple, but also had a feint hint of petrol Lots of great acidity came across the nose. A really, really impressive Riesling.

Without question, both times, my favorite wine at both tastings was the Hector Essence. I tried both the Hector Essence 2014 and the Essence 2015. Essence is a full bodied Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon,  Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. All grapes are handpicked and hand-sorted and each barrel is carefully selected for a perfectly balanced blend. They've been releasing this blend since 2010, when Syrah was one of the original components. By 2013 it was the classic components we know today blended into thirds. The Syrah is now a separate wine. Essence is one of the winery's most popular offerings, and it's easy now to see why.

The Hector Essence Seneca Lake 2014 is a lovely wine of cherry, raspberry, cassis, with hints of vanilla and spice. Medium bodied stewed berries are at the front of the attack, with hints of earth and spice, this is a lovely wine. A good, solid, impressive red wine. One of my favorite blends of the region. The Hector 2015, I felt, had bigger fruit, a more impressive lead off, with a combination of light and dark fruit.Big cherry, stewed black berries, and cassis. I felt the tannins were slightly more pronounced, and the middle carried through better. The finish was also impressive with good acidity and lovely lingering flavors. There were layers to both wines, but the 2015, for me, had a much longer lasting lingering affect. The flavors just kept coming through. Really really impressive.

The Hector Syrah Seneca Lake 2016 was my second favorite wine, and could easily challenge for best on their list.It had a lovely, jammy profile up front with plumb and cassis and dark cherry. Really really lovely flavors up front. The tannins were solid but not over powering, and the after taste, with a hint of cassis and spice, lasted long after I swallowed each gulp. A very impressive wine.

Bond and Boyette fermented this unfined and unfiltered Hector Cabernet Franc with indigenous yeast and aged it in large format oak barrels. The result is a lovely, medium bodied red wine brimmimng with cherries (bright and dark) an with lovely traces of spice and bright and elegant with earthy undertones, and a slight touch of graphite. Very nice.

The Hector Cabernet Sauvignon Seneca Lake 2015 was a wonderful surprise. The flavors were bigger and more well rounded than I was expecting. A big dose of blackberry, cherry, raspberry, and cassis all swirled in th front on the nose and palate. Big tannins took over the middle, and the acidity was just enough to finish the wine and make this bottle mouthwatering.

In the end, though the whites were nice, I was seeing (and buying) red at Hector Wine Company. And that was a good thing! You will too! Enjoy!