- Rating: 89 out of 100
- Tasting Fee: $40 or Free with 2 bottle purchase
- Accepts Reservations: Yes
- Reservation Required: false
Napa, CA 94559
Kieu Hoang was a nice stop to unwind after a long day of tasting. The views from the balcony are great, the wine and tasting fees are affordable, and the wines themselves are pleasant and easy to drink. Though, if you asked me whether I would visit the winery again, the answer is likely “no”. It wasn’t the most memorable experience, the wine ambassador wasn’t the most engaging, and the wines did not ship well (a large percentage of the bottles we shipped back to DC were faulty - not just one or two). People have asked me why I wouldn’t give a winery a second chance. My response is that there are ~425 wineries in Sonoma. I will not likely be able to taste at all of them in my lifetime, so why bother trying the same one twice, especially if I didn’t like it the first time?
Kieu Hoang is named after the owner; a Vietnamese-born American billionaire who owned a large percentage of Shanghai RAAS Blood Products for a time. Kieu Hoang first became interested in wine because of him background and passion regarding people’s well-being. He, like so many others, discovered that wine was healthy in moderation: both physically and for the soul. The winery was purchased from Michael Mondavi in 2014 and re-oriented toward the Chinese market. Most of the wine produced is exported to China and sold through affiliated pharmacies. Because of the market orientation of the winery and wines, I’m not sure if it’s geared toward the preferences of the American wine drinker and maybe everything is as the owner intended.
While the winery isn’t very impressive on the outside, the inside is very different (and attractive). The tasting room is tastefully designed and the patio area is my happy place. The wines themselves were all smooth and drinking well, but nothing stuck out to me as individualistic or something that separates this winery from others. The Emperor label was great, but not at the $175 price point (compared to other wines in the same category). Also, you can get the bottle for ~$50 cheaper if you purchase it at “The Wine Room” in Palo Alto, though don’t ask me how or why the price is that different.
Below are my notes on the wines I tasted. NOTE: One fun thing Kieu Hoang does is that they let you construct your own tasting. They will give you the list of all the wines they offer and you are able to select 4 bottles to taste. Tasting the Emporer label will set you back an additional $20 and is served separately via Coravin.
- 2014 Pinot Noir (Los Carneros) ($45)
- Ripe red fruit (cherry, strawberry) that has aged a bit with some sweet spice, depth and medium intensity. On the palate, this wine shows that it’s robust and hearty with tertiary earthiness and medium body. The wine shows concentration with its flavors of raspberry, cranberry, lighter cherry and some earth undertones starting to develop. Balancing acidity and pretty smooth.
- 2010 Green Label ($50)
- Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Stag’s Leap/Rutherford. Bright red fruit (pomegranate, strawberry) on the nose. On the palate, similar tasting notes with vanilla and some baking spice. Medium(+) grippy tannins and medium(+) acid. Thanks to the acid, tannins, and mellow red fruit flavors, the wine feels rustic like Italian wines, but with a slightly different tasting profile. Reminiscent of a Super Tuscan.
- 2012 Red Label ($60)
- 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Calistoga/Yountville. There is concentration and elegance in this wine at the same time. Deep, warm red cherry and red currant emerge from the glass with medium(+) intensity. On the palate, the same flavors are blended with vanilla and baking spice. The palate feels just a little hollow on the midpalate and the medium(-) body clashes with the alcohol a little, but overall this is a very enjoyable Napa Cabernet that isn’t too serious. At the price point, it’s a nice wine.
- 2012 Gold Label ($80)
- 85% Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and Syrah sourced Howell Mountain and St. Helena. The color and the nose are noticeably deeper and darker than the Red Label. Black/red currant and black/red candied cherry dominate the nose. The medium body clashes with the high acid and tannin - it probably needs some time to integrate but the structure will definitely support that. The midpalate is again a bit lacking, but this is still a nice wine that will please those looking to explore mountain AVA styled wines.
- 2011 Emperor Label ($175)
- Spring Mountain Estate of Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve had it at wine bars for $130, so considering they must have marked it up, you can probably find it for ~$100 somewhere else through a distributor. The nose on this is deep with red and black fruit at a coy, medium(+) intensity. On the body, there are a lot of things happening. The fruit components are the same as the Gold Label, but they seem rearranged and integrated in a much more pleasing manner with cocoa and salinity. The acidity is not biting and the midpalate is filled out by this medium(+) body wine. There’s even some toast, caramel, and brown sugar on the finish.
If you decide to visit, I hope that your shipping experience is better with ours. Instead of waiting until the fall/winter for the heat to die down, they tried shipping 2-day in the latter part of the summer, likely contributing to the wine faults. If you decide to just visit, enjoy a tasting and the views, then likely you won’t be disappointed. Cheers and happy hunting for good wine!
Rating: 89 out of 100