A bold “Cabernet drinker’s” Merlot, Hanaiali’i has spicy aromas and rich flavors of plum, cranberry, raspberry, chocolate, and soft vanilla. A wine that always impresses the most experienced oenophile but also suits the palate of the casual wine drinker, this complex and brooding treat can be enjoyed now or cellared. It pairs with savory meat dishes as well as seafood, Mediterranean and island cuisine.
Vintage and Winemaker Notes
This pure expression of Napa Valley’s finest fruit embodies the partnership between two historic Napa Valley families and 5-time GRAMMY Nominee, and 24 Na Hoku Honohono award winner, Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom.
Hanaiali’i Merlot comes from Davidson Ranch in St. Helena (Northern Napa Valley), where you’ll find celebrated cabernet vineyards and some of Napa Valley’s most celebrated wineries. Only blocks from the home of vintner Ian Devereux, this celebrated vineyard presents ideal conditions for bold and spicy Merlot. And the meticulous, sustainable farming techniques and obsessive winemaking have led us to the 4th vintage of this 7-time gold medal winning, 2-time best in class, 90+ point scoring Merlot with a touch of Napa Valley Cabernet Franc blended in.
Blend/varietals: Merlot, Cabernet Franc (less than 1%)
Vineyard: 100% Napa Valley. Primarily Davidson Ranch, St. Helena
“In Hawai’i, we love family get togethers – Pa’ina. Food, wine and music are abundant in Paradise. From Napa Valley where we discovered the flavor of Hanaiali’i, sharing stories, drinking wine, and playing music at our first pa’ina, to bringing my music to you in this bottle–feels like home to me. Enjoy this taste of Hawai’i in our Merlot with Aloha from our Ohana in Napa Valley."
Our story began, as many great stories do, with music and wine. It was a serendipitous interview, a farmer with some of Napa Valley’s best grapes, and a seemingly impossible puzzle that brought us together. Weeks after meeting we shook hands backstage at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, CA and took on the deal that would lead us into a life-long friendship, the founding of a winery, and a plan to conquer the world. Well… the wine world. True world domination may actually be outside of our skill set.
We blended our backgrounds in music and wine, paired them with partner John Anthony Truchard’s wine industry and farming expertise, and formed Smith Devereux.
We are driven by the simple goal of making world-class wines at modest prices.
Every bottle tells a story. We hope that our wines will become a part of yours.
AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, IL, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI
FedEx Ground: Monday, September 24th - Thursday, September 27th
I got really excited for a minute thinking this was a wine from the Volcano Winery on the Hawaii’s big island (Wonderful place, went there on our first trip to the islands. ADORED it. Was very annoyed when the wine we shipped back on our last trip from the ABC store on Oahu was corked!) Waiting for a rat on this one, a bit pricey vs the red stash currently, but sounds like a strong maybe.
Surprising that this is the same vintage that was offered on WW some time ago. I had gotten some of that, and my initial impression was not particularly favorable: “…with all the buildup I’d expected a fuller-flavored wine, more like a good Cabernet. It’s fairly austere. The high alcohol is well balanced, though.” I thought at the time that some age would help, and had marked the remaining bottles to be held to 2020. (I apparently opened the second of five bottles, but I can’t find any notes on it. IIRC, I ended up blending it with some PS or something.)
Then this offer came along, and so I pulled the cork on three of five (not to be confused with seven of nine). It has mellowed a bit in the intervening year and a half, and is now drinking pretty well. It’s still a slender wine, not like a Napa Cab, but certainly more stylish than the sort of flabby Merlots from many producers. I happened to have bought a bottle of '15 Alexander Valley Vineyard Merlot (locally on sale for the same price as the case price of the Hānaialiʻi) a couple of days ago, so I opened it for comparison. The two wines are pretty similar, although the AVV at 14.0 has less alcohol to contend with. Perhaps because of that it comes off as having a little more fruit. And I tend to favor Sonoma wines over Napa wines anyway.
So I like the Hānaialiʻi, and will happily drink the remaining two bottles some day. But in the Chicago burbs I think I can do as well without committing to a case.
@DickL Well, 17 hours later, I think the fruit has come out a little. The alcohol is noticeable, but not so strong as to be objectionable. At this point, it is a pretty pleasant red wine, probably best with food, but not bad on its own. (A few minutes later…) To test that theory, I tried it with some (leftover) cannellini in a somewhat spicy onion/garlic/tomato sauce and with some Gorgonzola cheese. It stood up to both well, and really went well with the cheese.
(For completeness, I should probably comment on the AVV Merlot, too. It’s also opened up a little, in this case with some nice wood on the nose in addition to the fruit on the palate.)
We will be drinking well tonight with these two wines. It remains to be seen how my wife likes these.
I get the privilege to be an Official Lab Rat for this one. I have been watching what Smith Devereux has been doing here in the Napa Valley and it makes me very excited to taste and talk about one of their wines. I also believe John Truchard is involved here which is a name that cannot be ignored right now in Napa as he is killing it.
Upon first opening and pour you can see why it can be marketed as a “Cab Lovers” Merlot as it shares some of the traits I look for out of a Napa Cab. The first I was able to recognize was the color. I feel this wine is dense enough in color where it starts to venture in those Cab ranges. That color and density extends its way onto the tongue with a feel of a cab, but with a little less of a tannin bite than you would expect. The second, and this is a good thing for me, was its aroma and flavors of Napa Valley Dirt. It reminds me of a smell and taste I had as a kid growing up in Napa and always being in the creeks and hillsides messing around. Something funny is that I had never acquired this admiration for this side of a wine until I had moved abroad and had a period of drinking non California wine. When I came back to it, I felt like I could taste literally the dirt the wine was grown in. This, has now been the largest indicator for me of a wine that is grown in and near Napa and something I personally look for in tasting. I know this wine comes from Davidson Ranch in St Helena. I am not quite sure where exactly that is but St Helena isn’t that big so ill pan from west to east and state Ive seen the vineyard.
Thats where this Cab-oose ends i think. Other than the mentioned similarities I believe this wine starts taking on a lot more of a merlot structure. It has front end berry/cherry richness balanced with a mellowed Oak that compliments it well. I ran a glass through an aerator which in my opinion really made the alcohol content come through and started to deliver some sharp edged flavors. This led me to believe that drinking directly out of the bottle might produce desirable results and will make an attempt on the last glass. I do think because of my decanter experience and from reading a previous commenters experience on how it has slightly improved, that this wine is probably in a good place to drink now.
Overall Impression so far is that the 2015 Hanaiali’i Merlot has been a palatable wine that would cover a lot of bases in the gatherings and pairings categories. Im sure this wine would appeal to anyone who enjoys some of the stronger traits that Napa wines have to offer in its more subtle Merlot variety. For the $15.00-$17.50 casemates family discount, I see this wine being a decent decision in having a broad based drinkable wine around the house. It absolutely checks off the boxes in both hailing from Napa and in a larger personality of merlot. If you happen to be closely connected to Hawaii or the Artist who put this thing together, “Amy Hanaiali’i”, then there would be just that much more incentive to sponsor and acknowledge that they are doing some good things here and to keep it up.
Ive been able to have some time with this wine so here is a bit of an update…
I keep seeing 94 points but am not sure who provided it. Even without knowing I will continue with my original opinion that at this time this is a very drinkable wine for a lot of occasions. Tonight I was able to enjoy a glass with Asada Street Tacos with Mango and it went really well. I would expect it to hold a nice range with food working with gamier Lamb all the way down to seasoned chicken. I would think almost anything off of a grill with a mild char or smoke would be complimenting. Dare I say Mahi Mahi?
The biggest item that I kept an eye out for and monitored my impressions on were its alcohol content as it was the first thing that I could get to come out at me if I provoked it enough. With a little bit of decanting it ended up becoming an attribute that would change its drinkability with me. I am also glad that the weather was cooperating with me as Im personally not quite ready to jump into something so bold if we were in a heat wave. This wine will become more tempting as the weather dips a bit for me.
If you are going to try the whole experience and listen to one of Amy’s albums , I suggest starting with “Chardonnay” to get your palate going. While U and Napa are getting closer, it only feels right to blend that right into Remembering Napua.
Im probably done with this as Im out of wine. I still feel confident that this is a decent display of a Napa Merlot that should get nods that its a “good fit” for most occasions that you can throw at it. Is this also a wine to watch as their scores appear to improve with each release?