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WL Rating: 3 out of 5 based on 1 rating

Hahn Estates Monterey County Merlot 2006

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    2006 Hahn Estates Merlot, Monterey

    Do you remember that great comic The Far Side? There is one in particular - "What we say to dogs" which features a guy berating his pet: "Okay Ginger! I've had it! You stay out of the garbage! Understand Ginger…?." The punchline is in the next frame – "What they hear" – "blah blah Ginger blah blah blah blah Ginger blah blah…." I bet that's what I'm starting to sound like to those of you who have heard my seemingly endless rantings about too much substandard Merlot on the market "blah blah Merlot blah blah blah Merlot blah blah blah blah insipid blah blah Merlot…" But as long as I have the podium, I'm going to continue my assault. The problem as I see it, is two-fold. First, Merlot is a very fastidious cooler-climate grape that is planted in regions that are far too warm or too cold to develop the truly expressive varietal characteristics it is capable of. I would consider parts of Sonoma, Santa Barbara, hillside Napa, and some thin slices in Monterey as ideal. I actually believe there may even be less suitable spots to grow the grape in California than Pinot Noir. Secondly, few people have had the opportunity to taste what are generally considered excellent Merlots. Most tend to be fairly expensive and hard to find. Heck, I think a bottle of the current release Chateau Petrus will set you back about $1,200 assuming you could locate one. But there are affordable gems to be found and I consider myself blessed to be able to bring you a wine that I hope you might consider as such. Our Ste. Phillipe Merlot vineyard in the Arroyo Seco sub-appellation of Monterey produces fruit that I think has all of the true qualities of a more expensive Merlot. Many wine professionals agree. It has garnered more accolades at the International Competition level than virtually every other Merlot out there for a number of years. And here's another reason you might consider this wine: for $1,200, you can buy a bottle of Hahn Merlot and still have enough pocket change left over to take a round trip to the tropics, lie on the beach, and consider all of the injustices done to this fine grape.

    The 2006 growing season was fairly dry and consistent, albeit a little cool. Our harvest ended up being about three weeks later than norm, which actually benefited the wine. The extra hang time allowed for darker colors and fuller, more developed tannins, all without a decrease in acid levels. Even though this was a complete wine from the start, those who know me know that I'm never satisfied and so chose to blend in some Cabernet Sauvignon to add coarser tannins to the midpalate and some Petit Verdot to stretch those same tannins out at the finish. The nose stays respectful of the varietal with the most prominent aromatics being dark cherry, plum, and a delicate whiff of tea leaf over the top. Dark fruit flavors make up the core with added layers of raspberry, and cassis from the blenders. The mouth is soft and developed since the strength of the fruit hides any bitterness and melds so well with the astringency of the new oak. A bit more acid than in the previous vintage adds a level of brightness to the wine and draws out the finish pretty seamlessly.

    Adam LaZarre

    Varietal composition: 78% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon

    Posted by thewinery on February 26th, 2008 at 7:26pm | report comment

    Color: darker garnet with violet highlights

    Nose: Toasty, with black and red fruit and a hint of blue, foloowed by some garden herbs.

    Palate: Nicely supple, with some spicy oak, blackberry and some anise on the finish. Great value and balance.

    Posted by drxeno on December 29th, 2008 at 2:12am | report comment

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