Hahn Winery Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2006
Jeweled in a crystal-clear ruby hue, this sultry wine opens to a nose of soft rose petals and earthy aromas. Pepper and nutmeg draw you in and as the wine passes your lips you are surprised by the elegant and rich mouthfeel. At first taste, this juicy wine gives uncut wild berry and strawberry flavors with hints of melted caramel. Viscous flavors of black cherry combined with slight citrus notes give this wine a unique twist. Soft, velvet-coated tannins taper off with a long finish, making this a perfect pairing with virtually any dish.
Try with vinaigrette-glazed grilled Ahi with spinach and mixed green salad in a raspberry vinaigrette with berries, red onions, avocado and goat cheese.
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Hahn Estate wines feature grapes sourced from estate vineyards in the Arroyo Seco appellation of Monterey County. A hidden gem, located below the Santa Lucia Highlands, these vineyards sit on a gravelly alluvial plain with rocky soils fostering excellent drainage. Cool winds channeling South from Monterey Bay through the Salinas Valley ensure gradual ripening, full development of vibrant fruit flavors and bright acidity. Arroyo Seco, one of the smallest AVAs in the state, boasts one of the longest growing seasons. In this region, warm and sunny days are followed by cool afternoons once wind blowing in from the Monterey Bay sweeps through the Salinas Valley. This daily cooling effect allows for longer hang times and creates ripe fruit.
Perhaps the most highly regarded appellation within Monterey County, Santa Lucia Highlands AVA benefits from a combination of warm morning sunshine and brisk afternoon breezes, allowing grapes to ripen slowly and fully. The result is concentrated, flavorful wines that retain their natural acidity. Wineries here do not shy away from innovation, and place a high priority on sustainable viticultural practices.
The climatic conditions here are perfectly suited to the production of ripe, rich Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These Burgundian varieties dominate an overwhelming percentage of plantings, though growers have also found success with Syrah, Riesling and Pinot Gris.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.