It’s Tuesday and you want a glass of wine. It’s Friday night and you’ve just ordered a pizza and — want a glass of wine. It’s Sunday and you’re having a few guests over for brunch who may just, well, want a glass of wine. Casual, everyday situations call for a glass of wine, but you don’t want to necessarily open something “special.” You want to open, what I call, a reliable “daily drinker.” And here is where Hahn excels: While they produce some magnificently refined single-vineyard expressions of their flagship varietals, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, they also dedicate their simply stated Hahn line of wines to the daily drinker.
“I want to make wines that everybody enjoys,” says Hahn winemaker Paul Clifton. And, indeed, he does. From the elegantly balanced Lone Oak Vineyard Chardonnay under the Lucienne label, to the exclusive “tasting-room-only” Smith and Hook Cabernet — and this, supermarket staple Hahn Monterey County Chardonnay.
The Santa Lucia Highlands can create some interesting wines — from almost meaty Pinot Noir, to downright angry Syrah. The Hahn SLH Chardonnay hails from higher elevation vineyards that reach, at top level, 1,200 feet and are planted atop sandy loam soils. Sitting neatly above the fog line and amongst the well-draining soil, the Chardonnay receives ample amount of sunlight and receive just enough water to force the vines to work. The result is good, fully ripened fruit bursting at the seams to become wine. But the expression in that wine, well, that depends on the winemaker…
You know when you’re in that head space — the one that makes you feel like you just want to be alone, listening to music, doing your own thing? It’s that solitary seclusion from the rest of the world that somehow makes you feel more connected to it. I’ve got a wine pairing for that…
Russian wine: I’ve never quite thought about it. But Big Cork Vineyards is into big ideas — and not just with their bodacious reds. As I’ve mentioned before, Maryland’s climate is actually quite a cold one, especially when compared to the vineyards in my native California. This opens up their little wine country up to a whole host of grapes that are virtually untapped here on the west side. So, how about a taste of SK77-53, SK77-10-69, and XIV 186 my friends?
Vidal Blanc is a hybrid grape — a cross between Ugni Blanc and Rayon d’Or — created in the 1930s by Jean Louis Vidal. If you’re from the sunny state of California, as I am, and have never heard of this varietal, that’s not surprising and nor are you alone. Because of the grape’s thick skin, it thrives best in cold, even downright icy regions. In fact, it is considered one of the great grapes of Canada, where it’s often used to create ice wines — wines created by picking the grapes when they’re frozen and contain more concentrated sugar levels.
Maryland does have cooler temperatures (sometimes dangerously frost-filled winters), which opens up the vineyard playing field to interesting grapes like Vidal Blanc. And, while this is no dessert wine, be warned my dry white wine lovers, that you’re in for an interesting twist ahead with the Big Cork Vineyards expression of this quirky grape.