Hahn is a household name. And it should be, as the Hahn family were basically the founding vintners of Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highland AVA. Nicolaus (Nicky) and Gaby Hahn purchased their plot of SLH and planted their first vines in the 1970s, celebrating their first vintage in 1980, and in 1991 “Nicky led the charge to establish SLH as an American Viticultural Area.” Today the Hahn estate includes 650 acres of sustainably farmed vineyards.

Though you may find these wines at your local shops, you should know that Hahn is still a family owned and operated winery, with Nicky and Gaby’s son Philip at the helm. And it’s that personal, familial touch that makes these oh-so-accessible wines oh-so-special.

About the Wine: Hahn 2015 SLH Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from 4 different Hahn estate vineyards: Smith (34%), Doctor’s (38%), Hook (26%), and Lone Oak (2%). After harvest, each separate lot is fermented in open top stainless steel tanks. The wine is then aged in small, 60-gallon French oak barrels (33% new; 67% neutral) for 12 months. The selected barrels are blended just before bottling.

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: From the bottle, there’s an immediate aroma of plump black fruits and an almost meaty-umaminess. The Hahn SLH Pinot Noir is the definition of ruby red on the pour and in the glass — a true gem sparkling in the light. In the glass, initial aromas are absolutely of pink and purple flowers and fresh greenery. Fruit aromas are a lot lighter than initially indicated from the bottle. As the wine opens up, it releases scents of cranberries and boysenberries, fully ripened and ready to burst. Swirl the wine to find a hint of fresh cut wood and sage lingering in the background.

On the palate the Hahn SLH Pinot Noir is full, those tannins hitting straight-away and a gentle coat of grape skin envelopes the tongue like a thin blanket. But the good news is that the acid hits simultaneously, keeping the palate alive and active. Flavors are reminiscent of that fresh cut wood and sage sensed on the nose. Fruits are present but not dominant. The finish is a juicy, but savory one — bringing back that original impression of rare-steak umaminess.

Food Pairing: I paired the Hahn SLH Pinot Noir with a seared salmon salad. While this pairing was tasty — the herbs playing with the tannic texture, the oak in the wine complimenting the sear on the fish — I would argue that this Pinot Noir can stand up to something even more hearty. Meat and potato lovers: this is your Pinot Noir.

More Info: Click to learn more about Hahn Family Wines and the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA.

I received the Hahn 2015 SLH Pinot Noir as a sample for review. (Cheers, Ben!) Retail: $30. For more information and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Hahn Wines website.

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