January 5, 2012: Hahn Family Wines

The Hahn Winery brand was created in 1991 by Nicolaus “Nicky” Hahn to showcase supple, accessible, and reasonably priced wines from their family’s vineyards in Monterey County. Today their production includes a number of labels such as Cycles Gladiator, Hahn Estate Santa Lucia Highlands, and Smith and Hook, as well as Copa del Rey, Huntington, Lucienne, and Bin 36.

Hahn Estate SLH (Santa Lucia Highlands), the high-end Hahn label, encompasses 650 acres of hillside vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands that range in elevation from 200 to 1,200 feet. These wines not only express the terroir of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, but also, according to winemaker Paul Clifton, the “soul of the Hahn team.” For the tasting we will try the Estate Chardonnay 2009 and Estate Pinot Noir 2010.

Cycles Gladiator, their entry-level value brand, was actually banned in the state by the ABC board a few years ago due to “nudity” on the label (click here to view the label of their new “Banned in Bama Cuvee”). Since then the winery shrunk the original label to a size small enough that the ABC Board deemed it appropriate for sales in Alabama. The Cycles Gladiator winery sits on the Sacramento River Delta in the Lodi appellation of California. This area offers a Mediterranean climate of high daytime temperatures followed by cool evening delta breezes, which create an ideal environment for producing fruit-forward, approachable wines of great value. At the tasting we will sample the Chardonnay 2010, Merlot 2009, and Cabernet 2009, all priced at $8.99.

Smith and Hook is located on two neighboring “ranches-turned-vineyards” in Monterey County. The Smith Ranch had been a horse ranch, and the Hook Ranch had raised cattle for generations. Vineyards were planted in the late 1970’s and the first wine, a single-varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, released in 1980. Today this vineyard produces richly flavored Monterey fruit that is blended with other Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon to create a complex, bold, and balanced wine. We got an outstanding deal for the tasting; it is regularly priced at $29.99 but will be $19.99 tomorrow night.

We hope you will join us!

The specific wines for the tasting are:

Cycles Gladiator Chardonnay 2010– California. A mild and pleasant white with aromas of melon, tropical fruit, wildflower, and a hint of oak. It is fresh and crisp on the palate with flavors of green apple, peach, and citrus, with a note of mineral on the light finish. Tasting $8.99

Cycles Gladiator Merlot 2009– California. A blend of 88% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Cabernet Franc that aged in barrel, 40% new French oak. Pretty aromas of cherry, plum, licorice and cedar are followed by a soft and juicy mouthfeel and flavors of ripe berries, cola, and sweet oak. Tasting $8.99

Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon 2009– California. A blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot that aged in barrel, 55% new French oak. Dark fruit aromas of blackberry, plum, and black cherry are enhanced by similar flavors with notes of pepper spice and vanilla/oak. It is lush and mouthfilling with a sweet, fruity finish. Tasting $8.99

Hahn Estate Chardonnay 2009– Santa Lucia Highlands, California. Most of the fruit comes from the 156-acre Lone Oak Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The wine offers a sweeter nose of ripe, juicy tropical fruits like mango and pineapple. On the palate it is juicy and fresh with tropical fruit flavors and a note of green apple. A balanced offering with good acidity and a nutty, toasty oak finish. Tasting $17.99

Hahn Estate Pinot Noir 2010– Santa Lucia Highlands, California. The grapes come from three vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands; Smith and Hook, Lone Oak, and Doctor’s Vineyards. A vibrant, elegant and complex wine with a nose of lush dark berry fruit, spice, dried herbs, and violets. The palate displays nice balance of acidity and tannins with notes of berry fruits, cola, spice, minerals, and toasty oak. Tasting $21.99

Smith and Hook Cabernet Sauvignon 2009– Central Coast, California. A blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot. A deep and expressive Bordeaux-inspired red with scents of plum, cassis, clove and cedar. On the lush and textured palate flavors of dark berries, baking spice and espresso dominate. Dusty tannins, balanced acid, and a lingering finish make this wine an outstanding value. Tasting $19.99

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