There’s been a lot going on and, yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I didn’t realize people would notice until, well, people started to notice. So thank you to those of you encouraging me to keep my private writing space up and running.

A lot has been changing over the last year. I’m now a full-time wine writer—so I am traveling, tasting, and writing a whole lot more. I’m busy constantly learning about all sectors of the wine industry, from the vineyard to the tasting room. I love it.

Please check out my updated About page. I’m also currently working on a page linking back to my professional work. For now, please Connect with me on LinkedIn where you can find current and past clips.

So, what exactly does all this personal stuff have to do with the Lucienne Smith Vineyards Pinot Noir?

About the Wine: If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a post “announcing” my last meal in my first home. Indeed, I am moving—from one part of the Bay Area I never thought I’d live in to another part of the Bay Area I’d never thought I’d live in. I’m looking forward to trying out the North Bay and maybe finding yet another part of this fantastic section of California to call home. But I could never leave the South Bay without paying proper homage to it. And I tend to express myself through wine and food (and, subsequently writing about wine and food).

The South Bay is where I was married—Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos. The South Bay is where we built our first home together. And really it was here that I was encouraged by my partner in wine crime to pursue my career-change dream. And so I thought there was no better way to celebrate our last night in our first home’s kitchen than by sipping on the Lucienne Smith Vineyards Pinot Noir. Sourced from Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highland (SLH)—an AVA where every nook and cranny literally has its own terroir that defines the wine. Here, two vineyards just acres apart could (and do) have vastly different flavor profiles. 

Read about my visit to the Hahn Family Winery to learn about a few such vineyards—including the Smith Vineyard, where this Pinot Noir is harvested from.

I was going to go on to say the SLH kind of epitomizes our brief South Bay story—Testarossa sources from some of the Hahn estate vines.

But now, as I free write this special review, I realize something else. Every nook and cranny literally defines the wine from SLH. Each pocket of the mountainscape provides something different: a stronger breeze, longer sun exposure, softer soils. Each pocket creates wine beautiful in its own right: long, lean, fruit forward; soft, decadent, earthy. Depending on what you want, that is where you go. And so…I go. And I grow. But unlike vines, I am not rooted to the ground, but can expose myself to the proper terroir as needed.

And that is where I am right now. 

And now, how about some wine notes?

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Lucienne Smith Vineyards Pinot Noir to find that this wine is immediately aromatic. Unctuous aromas of forest floor, a hint of chocolate, bursting blackberries, and an essence of aged oak wood become an aura around you. This Pinot Noir presents a pink-hued purple on the pour, settling into the glass a bit darker, a bit rustier, but still very feminine in quality. Initial aromas are of black cherry, boysenberry, marionberry – all very full, round, and jammy. You’ll find a hint of anise, a hint of chocolate, a hint of basil, and that essence of oak again. Swirl and release some deep, dark florals, and a distant beachy minerality.

The palate of the Lucienne Smith Vineyards Pinot Noir is soft and silky but full – full. Full of decadence, full of aromatics, full of flavor. The acidity is an even ride from start to finish; tannins are seamlessly integrated. Dominant flavors are of blackberry, boysenberry, purple plum, violets, milk chocolate, basil, fresh cherry wood and just a hint of mint during the simultaneously lingering and clean finish.

Food Pairing: I paired the Lucienne Smith Vineyards Pinot Noir with, what we call, “healthy Forbes.” It’s a play on our favorite dish from a restaurant that has a special memory (or two or three) for us. Unfortunately, Scruffy has since sold his floating restaurant, and Forbes Island, once off the dock of SF’s Fisherman’s Wharf is no longer in existence. It’s a bit surreal to think that the only lasting memory of this dish is the one created in our household.

The dish is a seared salmon served on top of a bed of coriander pesto infused cauliflower rice, wilted spinach, and garnished with a lemongrass-ginger beurre blanc sauce, topped with microgreens. I almost don’t want to give too many notes here, don’t want to pick apart a perfect food and wine pairing. I will say that the innate oils in the salmon paired perfectly with the soft mouthfeel of the wine. Meanwhile, the herb-filled sides perfectly lifted up both the fruits and florals. 

It’s like the wine and the food were walking in perfect parallel to one another, never needing to look at each other before taking the next step. Always in sync. Always in harmony.

Wine and food is a journey and my — my journey — it starts and ends with you.

More Info: I received the 2016 Lucienne Smith Vineyards Pinot Noir as a sample for review. (Cheers Ben!) For more information about Hahn Family Winery, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Hahn Wines website. 


BriscoeBites officially accepts samples as well as conducts on-site and online interviews. Want to have your wine, winery or tasting room featured? Please visit the Sample Policy page where you can contact me directly. Cheers!

**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**

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