Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Meeting people is a great way to want to try their wine

A while ago I went to Total Wine to explore the store and pick up a few bottles. I ended up with more than a few bottles, but one of the many I picked up was the Hahn Estates Meritage 2006. Around the blogosphere I got to know Lisa de Bruin, the New Media Marketing Director for the winery. Lisa writes her own blog, where she explores the world of relating to social media and how the mass amounts of bloggers relate to the world. Lisa and Hahn Estates are easily at the forefront of what I believe will be a growing trend of wineries and country promotional organizations having a dedicated staffer whose job it is to explore and relate to online media. I think Lisa and Hahn Estates do a fantastic job. They have started what they hope to be a regular bloggers tasting forum where wineries and bloggers can come together to discuss how each views the wine industry as it is today.

It seems to me that the people doing the best work for bloggers are other bloggers that have access to wineries, samples, or information. Besides Lisa, Lenn Thompson has been very influential in the New York wine industry and has set up a blogger event called TasteCamp (which I am very pleased to be attending). Other bloggers including dudes and lushes, all the way up to established wine writers such as Steve Heimoff of the Wine Enthusiast make mention of other bloggers that they find to be thoughtful and interesting to read. It should be noted that if I mention someone here I think it is well worth the time to check them out.

With that aside however, I want to focus on Hahn Estates.

Nicolaus Hahn and his wife Gaby founded Hahn Estates in the mid 70’s when they experienced that bug that led to a compulsion to start a winery. May I be inflicted one day with the same disease. After meeting with success for their Smith & Hook brand they started the Hahn Estates brand in 1991. The Hahn Estates line is meant to be more approachable by the average consumer as well as reasonably priced.

The wine was pleasant. It had a purple red color and smelled of sweet red cherries with muddled assorted berries. The taste started on the sour cherry side and then transitioned into blueberry punctuated by black pepper. At first I found the wine to be a little disjointed, with a sense of it not knowing how it wanted to present itself. However, once I added food I was very pleased with my purchase. I think this wine was made for rosemary lamb chops with focaccia bread. The blend on the wine is 33% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Petit Verdot, 11% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Malbec. There were 10,500 cases produced and the suggested retail price is $20, although I purchased the bottle for about $17.

I had a few questions for the winemaker, so Lisa put me in touch with Paul Clifton, who is in charge of the Hahn Estates, Hahn SLH (Santa Lucia Highlands), and Lucienne lines from the winery. Since the bottle said Central Coast as the AVA I wondered if the blended grapes came more from one region within the Central Coast than the others.

Paul said:

“Regarding the fruit for the Meritage: The Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Petite Verdot come from Paso Robles or southern Monterey County in the San Antonio AVA. The Merlot comes from Arroyo Seco and the Malbec comes from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Over the past 7 years, with the growth of our brands, we have worked with many growers up and down the Central coast with all these Bordeaux varietals. Through a lot of trial and error in working with Growers, as well as our own vineyards, we have determined these AVA’s to be the best for the style of Meritage we put together.

Most of the Bordeaux varieties do very well in warmer areas like Paso and southern Monterey County. However, in 1999, we planted a small block of Malbec in the Santa Lucia Highlands (a cool climate) for a tasting room wine and it has turned out to be an incredible blender with dark color and intense tannic structure. Since it was successful, we planted more Malbec to blend into the Meritage.”

Overall I would say this is a fair wine. It gave me just as much as I felt I had paid for, which is a rare marvel these days.
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