The 2010 vintage of Hahn Estate wines from California is available and a recent sampling caused a mixed commentary among the tasting group. While I can’t say that any of these wines stood out to me as fabulous, there were, however, some bargains and some surprises. Depending on personal taste, you may find a bottle that is just your style.
My personal surprise for the evening was the Chardonnay from Santa Lucia. Oaked Chardonnay is not my favorite, however, I can recognize when one is done well. This is a good wine for people who like to taste more oak than fruit, but still want an integrated and interesting flavor. Both the smell and taste were mostly oak, vanilla, and a little coconut. Maybe this is the Chardonnay to go with your suntan lotion? The surprise was a dash of white pepper flavor on the finish. This left a pleasant spicy taste in the mouth. Retail is in the $15 range.
The hit of the night was the Hahn Estate GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) from California’s Central Coast. It was the top pick for many and for others ran a close second. In a range of $11-15 it would be a bargain to pair with red meat. The blend of these three grapes is a classic style from the Southern Rhone that is copied in New World (non – European) wine-making regions in California and Australia. While the wine is dry (or not sweet from sugar) the dominant flavor is cooked black fruit – think plum cobbler. There is also vanilla and spice and a warmth from the relatively pronounced alcohol.
Hahn Estate Meritage from California’s Central Coast was a standout for balance and structure among the night’s line-up. This may be because the use of the name “meritage” demands certain requirements. Meritage is a term used for American wines that “copy” the grapes used in Bordeaux wines. In order to use the term, the winery has to limit the wine to traditional Bordeaux grape varieties, limit the number of cases produced to 25,000 a year, and the wine has to be one of the two most expensive wines from that winery. This blend is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with Malbec, Petite-Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Because of the climate and winemaking techniques in California, it does not taste like a French wine though. There is a lot of fruit – cherry, cassis, and blueberry. Tannins are also softer than a young French Bordeaux. In fact this is not a wine to cellar but to enjoy now. This could be paired with medium rare well-marbled steak or lamb chops The acid of the wine will cut through the fattiness of red meat and the savory flavor from the meat will tone down the fruit. In the $18-20 range this is not a bad choice if you want a steak wine that doesn’t costs more than the steak dinner.
Hahn Estates Pinot Noir, with a designation no smaller than “California”, represents what most Europeans think American wine drinkers like. It has plenty of fruit and plenty of alcohol. The aromas are like a cherry cola. For my taste, the alcohol was very hot on the palate and overpowered the wine. If you enjoy this style of wine or maybe if you have enjoyed wines like Cupcake Red Velvet and are looking for the next step in your wine explorations, you might consider a bottle – $11-15 approx. You won’t have to fight me for a bottle.
Hahn Estates Cabernet Sauvignon from California’s Central Coast is a “Cab” for “Zin” drinkers. By this I mean we expect Cabernet Sauvignon to have a relatively tannic effect that makes the mouth feel dry. We also expect some spice, vanilla, and wood aromas and flavors. The tannins on this wine were very soft, did not dry the mouth, and were much more like a Zinfandel. Also like a Zinfandel, the flavor was dominated with dried fruit, berry fruits like blackberry, and just a hint of under ripe or “sour” fruit. The evening’s tasters who like Cabernet Sauvignon did not care for this wine and those who like less tannic, fruitier wines enjoyed it. Price is approx. $15.