During the Australian wine boom last decade, one of the big wine companies thought it would be clever to pair a top Aussie winemaker with a leading California winemaker. The result was the $15 Hayman & Hill line. I got to taste with David Hayman, the Australian half, when the brand was introduced, and was quite impressed.
But, as often happens with these things, what seems like a good idea to a big wine company at one moment is not a good idea at the next. The Hayman & Hill wines, despite top-notch reviews, are sporadically available and the label doesn’t seem to have its own website any more. And the last I heard, neither Hayman nor Dennis Hill, the American, had much to do with making the wines.
Which is too bad, because Hayman & Hill’s bottles deserve the good reviews they get. This Napa Valley cabernet ($15, sample, available at Kroger) is a previous vintage, and it sat in the wine closet for a year before I realized it was there. But it was worth waiting for, with lots of black fruit (but not overdone or sweet) and enough tannins to stand up to the fruit and the acid. This is the kind of Napa cabernet that I appreciate: Sturdy, fruit forward and ready for a piece of red meat — but not overpriced.