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Smith & Hook Hahn Meritage Red 1998

Bordeaux Red Blends from Central Coast, California
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    Winemaker Notes

    Bursting with fruit, the wine has initial aromas of ripe plums, black cherries and Boysenberries. A hint of vanilla from some of the newer barrels adds to the complexity of this wine. The flavors closely follow the nose with a nice acid profile and firm but softening tannins. Drinking well now, the wine will age for another 5 to 7 years. Excellent food pairings include leg of lamb, beef tenderloin, most red pasta dishes and more flavorful poultry, such as duck or goose. Following the exciting success of our 1996 Meritage, we offer the 1997 vintage, one of abundant grapes of outstanding quality. Meritage, by definition, is the best wine produced under an individual brand, with no restrictions as to maximum or minimum ratios of the Bordeaux varietals.

    Wonderful weather throughout 1997 aided in the production of this spectacular wine. The weather was perfect from bud-break, continued through bloom and lasted well into the September harvest for most of the grapes in this wine. While most of the varietals were harvested and fermented separately, some of the Merlot and Malbec were fermented together, continuing the tradition of the previous vintage.

    Varietal Content: 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 27% Malbec, 8% Cabernet Franc

    Critical Acclaim

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    Smith & Hook

    Smith & Hook Winery

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    Smith & Hook Winery, Central Coast, California
    Video of winery
    The Smith Ranch was a horse ranch for generations, while to the south, the Hooks raised cattle. We discovered these ranches in a search for the ideal place to grow Cabernet Sauvignon. The climate along the western slopes of the Santa Lucias was perfect, and the ranch had a beautiful view of the Salinas Valley. So in 1974, we purchased the two ranches and established the Smith & Hook Winery on the old Smith Ranch. We made our first Cabernet Sauvignon in 1979 and quickly developed a reputation for excellence. Hahn Estates represents a continuation of the Smith & Hook tradition of excellence in winemaking. The Hahns own over 1,400 acres of vineyards in Monterey County. Grapes from the different vineyards vary in character and style. With such versatility, we can create supple, accessible wines. In German, "Hahn" means "rooster," and for this reason, a rooster embellishes the Hahn Estates label.

    Central Coast

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    The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces the majority of the state's wine. The sprawling district covers most of the vineyard land between San Francisco and Santa Barbara from the coast inland nearly all the way to the Central Valley. Encompassing an extremely diverse array of climates, soil types, and wine styles, it contains many smaller sub-AVAs, including Monterey, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, and Santa Cruz Mountains.

    Just about every major international grape variety is planted within this vast AVA, from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. A significant proportion of the region’s produce is generic, inexpensive bulk wine, but the Central Coast is also home to many small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as everything in between.

    Bordeaux Blends

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    One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington, and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde river, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

    In the Glass

    Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

    Perfect Pairings

    Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful, and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb, or smoked duck.

    Sommelier Secret

    While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.

    VWD2801125_1998 Item# 39509