In the midst of feverishly making a new vintage of Hahn wines, we received enthusiastic reviews from none other than Robert Parker, famed and fabled wine critic, whose team of writers seem to love our Lucienne and SLH wines. What I find interesting about the reviews is how specific they are and how some accolades relate to specific winemaking practices we follow in the winery. For instance:
“The completely destemmed (as is everything from this estate) 2014 Lucienne Pinot Noir Lone Oak Vineyard spent 13 months in 35-45% new French oak, with malolactic fermentation in barrel. It’s a sensational Pinot Noir that’s probably the finest wine I’ve tasted from this estate, which seems to have hit another level recently. Giving up lots of black raspberry, framboise, crushed spice and floral aromas and flavors, it’s medium to full-bodied, has a silky texture, fine tannin and a great finish. There are 600 cases of this beauty out there, and it’s well worth the effort to track down.”
When I read this, I think of the guys in the cellar; Israel, Sergio, Antonio, Marco, Luis, Izzy, Danny, Agustine, Leander and Cooper who operate the destemmer every day. Then there’s Chano who fixes it if it malfunctions. The stems are returned to the vineyards for composting, thus re-enriching the soils. These guys get the wines in barrels, keeping the barrel rooms organized and clean. Choosing which oak to use is a big part of the final wine, as well. Which cooperage to get the barrels from, which forest in France to source the oak from, what fire-toast level to have the barrels toasted to, which grain size and tightness, how long to leave the wines in barrel are questions we ask constantly.
Of course, our lab techs, Natalie and Liz, constantly analyze wines for malolactic progress, as well as Brix levels, pH, alcohol, residual sugar and a slew of other tests. The fruit descriptors make me think of Pat and Andy, growing the right varietals and clones in the right locations. Medium-to-full bodied, silky texture reminds me of the pumpover and punch-down regimens employed and the consistency of the crews getting the work done perfectly and reliably. Asst. Winemaker Megan manages the database, the crews’ daily workload and logistics. It takes good people to make good wine and we have both! Attention to detail, focus, and passion are vital ingredients in crafting handmade wines.
These recent high scores by Robert Parker as well as Wine Spectator’s accolades for our wines give me great pride in the organic social, economic, environmental, and employment experiment in group dynamics called wine making at Hahn. In particular, my almost 14-year partnership with fellow winemaker and Director of Winemaking, Paul Clifton. Over the years, we have seen our share of changes and it is our teamwork and cooperative effort that help foment the direction, vibe and overall calibration of this endeavor at our winery at the top of the hill. I look forward to bringing you exciting, vibrant and life-affirming wines to enjoy for years to come.
Paul Clifton, Director of Winemaking
Greg Freeman, Winemaker