The Tasting Panel magazine

Tasting Panel October 2010

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Page 38 of 96

INTRO-VINOUS Local Boy Makes Good (Wine) “P inot Noir is our bread and butter,” Hahn winemaker Paul Clifton tells THE TASTING PANEL. A native of California’s Monterey Bay area, Clifton traveled the world and studied enology abroad only to come back to his Central Coast roots and make the varietal best suited for Monterey County. But he’s also aiming to craft some of the region’s best Cabernet. Surprising Pinot With four estate vineyards in the shadows of the Santa Lucia Highlands— Smith Vineyards, Hook Vineyard, Lone Oak Vineyard and Doctor’s Vineyard— Hahn Family Wines farms over 400 acres of estate Pinot Noir, and also sources Pinot from a few hundred acres that they grow on the Valley floor. In the beginning, understanding the nature of Pinot Noir from Monterey was a work in progress for Clifton. “One of the first Pinots I tasted, eight years ago, was Pisoni, from a Santa Lucia Highlands vineyard that’s even further south than ours,” Clifton claims. “OMG!” was his initial response. “The wine was so rich and decadent.” But once Clifton started crafting Pinots from the Hahn vineyard sites, he realized that was just the nature of the terroir. “Intense Pinots,” he comments, “almost too intense.” Eventually, Clifton came to realize that he needed to let the Pinot be itself. Making wine from Lone Oak Vineyard, further north, where it’s a bit cooler, he found the fruit could also be described as elegant and refined. Diving into Bordeaux Varietals South of Monterey County is the Paso Robles AVA, where big, black fruit makes concentrated wines, taking shape from long days of sun and tempera- tures that can change over 50 degrees from morning to afternoon and then dip again at night. “This is one of the areas where we sought to make Hahn Cabernet Sauvignon,” Clifton says. But just short of Paso Robles in south Monterey County, the new AVA of San Antonio Valley is becoming known for wines with ripe, soft tannins that come out early in the game—making for approach- able reds. “The AVA produces great fruit here, and there is also the benefit of an aquifer.” Whether it’s Pinot, Cabernet or even Syrah, recent medals (see sidebar) show that the local Monterey boy is right where he belongs—on California’s Central Coast. Award Winners from Hahn Family Wines The portfolio is made up of eight brands: Hahn Winery, Hahn SLH Estate, Cycles Gladiator, Smith & Hook, Bin 36, Huntington, Copa del Rey and Lucienne. At the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition, Hahn Family Wines took home some solid gold. Double Gold and Best Syrah: Hahn SLH Estate 2007 Double Gold: Cycles Gladiator 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Gold: Bin 36 2007 Monterey Pinot Noir Gold: Cycles Gladiator 2007 Central Coast Belle Epoque Cabernet Sauvignon Gold: Hahn Winery 2008 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon 38 / the tasting panel / october 2010 HAHN FAMILY WINES’ PAUL CLIFTON IS RIGHT AT HOME ON CALIFORNIA’S CENTRAL COAST Paul Clifton. PHOTO: COURTESY OF HAHN FAMILY WINES

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