2005 Cabernet Sauvignon 'Grand Reserve'
Cabernet Sauvignon •St. Gabrielle Vineyard
California: Central Coast
What We Say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Hahn Estates & Smith and Hook Winery.
MID-DAY UPDATE: Today’s wine has proven exceptionally popular. We have tried to secure additional cases, but the winery has run out! Once this wine sells out, we will make another fine Hahn wine available.
Mission Codename: Smith & Hook, Line and Sinker
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Explore the fine wines of Smith & Hook Winery
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Hahn Estates & Smith and Hook Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Grand Reserve’
Winemaker: Adam LaZarre
Hahn Estates and the Smith and Hook Vineyards of Monterey represent the best of the region with regard to winemaking. Not only do they take great pride in the tradition of their product, they are also innovative, free thinking and adventurous. These wines are all true to their varietals but also have something more—something that is hard to put your finger on, until of course, you taste the wine. These characteristics are what makes all of Hahn’s wines ‘of Monterey Distinction’.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark purple, almost black and inky in clarity with garnet edges and long slender legs when swirled.
Smell – Intense blackberry, cedar, earth with hints of ripe raspberries and tobacco as the wine breathes.
Feel – Surprisingly smooth and full-bodied for a younger Cabernet, but still exhibits the solid tannic structure and a chewiness indicative of its big California brethren.
Taste – Extremely well integrated flavors of blackberries, boysenberries, tart Bing cherries, toasted cedar and black pepper. The aromas of tobacco and the early quality are also exhibited in the diverse layered flavors of this wine.
Finish – This wine finishes long and clean and fades nicely leaving you with a hint of fruit.
Conclusion – This Cabernet Sauvignon is surprisingly smooth and full-bodied for a younger wine. This wine is both elegant and robust pleasing even those that find most California Cabernets too big. But it also shows the qualities and characteristics that will allow this wine to have strong aging potential. Given the exceptional taste and flavor integration of this wine now, we can’t wait to try it again in a year.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Hahn Estates & Smith & Hook Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
Wine Spies Technical Analysis:
Appellation: Central Coast
Bottling Date: February 07, 2007
Release Date: March 16, 2007
What the Winery Says
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About This Wine:
The release of the 2005 Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon marks an exciting change of direction for this wine. We are now adding grapes from Paso Robles into our Santa Lucia Highlands Grand Reserve blend thus creating a wonderfully full and expressive Cabernet that expresses the best from both regions. Now, the addition of grapes NOT from our estate vineyards up on the hill might come as a shock to some of our veteran die-hard fans. It may even seem almost…sacrilegious. So I’m going to address this issue right away before anyone has a chance to curse, rip up this sheet, and tear out their hair.
Two winters ago, we made the painful decision to pull out the old Cabernet Sauvignon vines from the Hook Vineyard and all but 40 acres of the Smith Vineyard and replace them with Pinot Noir. Not as a response to that movie we have come to know and love, but it became increasingly apparent that there was little we could do in the vineyard to consistently ensure the kind of flavors we needed (and you expect) from one year to the next. Environmental factors played a large role in this but there were other issues that we couldn’t resolve. Some of these guys had viruses while others developed complications from certain soil parasites. Essentially, these old soldiers had become tired and it was time for them to retire. So Nicky Hahn went on a search to find a spectacular vineyard from which we could make equally (if not more) impressive Cabernet Sauvignon as a replacement. He found one.
The St. Gabrielle Vineyard located deep within the hilly terrain of Paso Robles’ Westside is a stunning property. There are approximately 62 acres of vineyards planted on two substantial hillsides. Most of the vines are Cabernet Sauvignon but we also have several acres of Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. The wines produced from these grapes are dense and jammy, with full flavors of blackberry and cassis and big, dusty tannins. The addition of these wines into our Smith & Hook Cabernet creates a cuvee with a fuller spectrum of flavors and aromatics than found in previous incarnations. You can see why we are excited.
Harvest for both our Paso Robles and Santa Lucia Highlands Estate Vineyards commenced about the same time during the last week of October. Numbers were also pretty similar: approximately 25.5 brix sugar with an average acidity of 0.65 gms and pH’s ranging from 3.55 to 3.65. All grapes were destemmed and crushed into 14 ton open top fementation tanks. UCLM-377 and D254 yeasts were added to the must after a three day soaking. We pumped over the tanks three times per day until the fermentation slowed at which point pumpovers were reduced to twice per day. The various Cabernet lots finished fermentation in about 12 days on the average. The wine was then pressed away from the seeds and skins, and allowed to settle and clarify in preparation for the subsequent transfer to a combination of new and neutral French oak barrels. At 14 months, the wines were racked from barrel, blended with a little Malbec and Cabernet Franc, and bottled.
The Nicolaus Hahn Family – Commitment to Monterey
Hahn Estates & Smith and Hook Winery is owned and operated by the Nicolaus Hahn Family. Nicolaus (“Nicky”) Hahn is a Swiss businessman, adventurer and philanthropist whose venturesome spirit brought him and his family to Monterey in the mid 1970’s. While living in England , the Hahns had discovered a love for California wines. A two-year search guided them to Monterey County with its breathtaking beauty and ideal growing conditions. Nicky quickly realized that this region had as much potential to produce world-class wines as any other in the state. He and his wife Gaby purchased Smith & Hook Winery in 1980, laying the groundwork for their long-term commitment to bring out the full potential of Monterey.