Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hahn Central Coast Meritage 2006

Hahn Central Coast Meritage 2006

I was recommending this as a special best buy back at the time, a complex full bodied fruit forward Meritage for under $20, a rare find indeed. Interestingly, they released it as a Meritage as opposed to a Cabernet or simply Red Wine. The reason this is notable and unique is that as I understand it, the term Meritage, is trademarked by the Meritage Alliance, a consortium of over 350 producers, and hence subject to licensing.

Meritage, oft mispronounced, rhymes with hermitage, and does not carry the 'ahh with a soft 'j''. Meritage is the term applied to a Bordeaux Blend, the combination of Bordeaux varietal grapes - Cabernet Sauvignon and or Merlot predominating with highlights of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot or some other lesser varietals in the blend. But, of course, only wines produced in the French Bordeaux region can carry the Bordeaux moniker, hence Meritage was coined for such wines produced in America (or elsewhere). And to maintain the exclusivity or distinction, the term is only available for use under license. Hence its rare to find a label at this price point since it doesn't allow the margin to carry the additional burden of the license fee. Indeed, even many high priced American Bordeaux Blends avoid the license fee and label their wines as simple 'Red Wine' or 'Red Wine Blend'. Some producers will use the historic term 'Claret' that dates back to the 1700's, the name used by the British for red wines from the Bordeaux region of France, or wines in the Bordeaux style.

According to the Meritage Alliance, "Meritage, pronounced like heritage, first appeared in the late 1980s after a group of American vintners joined forces to create a name for New World wines blended in the tradition of Bordeaux. In wine terms, the traditional historic wine regions such as Italy, France and Portugal, where they've been cultivating varietal grapes and crafting wines for centuries, are referred as the 'Old World', while the 'New World' refers to regions that have started and popularized the practice in the twentieth century, such as America, Australia, South Africa and South America.

The word Meritage was selected from more than 6,000 entries in an international contest. Meritage combines "merit," reflecting the quality of the grapes, with "heritage," which recognizes the centuries-old tradition of blending, long considered to be the highest form of the winemaker's art.

Meritage wines are growing in popularity and are currently the second fastest growing wine category in the industry. They are highly regarded for their aging potential, yet are completely approachable in their youth.
Many Meritage wines have proprietary names in addition to, or rather than, Meritage. In order to obtain a license and use the term Meritage on a label, a wine must meet certain criteria."

According to the Meritage Alliance in reference to the official designation, "A Red Meritage is a blend of two or more of the red "noble" Bordeaux varieties - Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and the rarer St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenère. If the blend includes any other grape variety, it is, by definition, not a Meritage. Also, to qualify as a Meritage, no single grape variety can make up more than 90% of the blend."

We bought a lot of this 2006 vintage release at the time and enjoyed it as our every day drinking red wine. Several friends adopted this wine as well. This is the last remaining bottle from that era and as such it was time to drink, showing its age and clearly being at the mature end of its drinking window. Still it was good tonight with pizza.

Hahn Central Coast Meritage 2006

Hahn Family wines produce a wide range of wines. Hahn is the German term for Rooster which adorns the label, named after the proprieter's ancestry. This is a high QPR - quality price ratio red wine blend of Bordeaux varietal grapes. Showing its age, the dark berry fruit is showing at over ripe with taste of raisins with hints of tobacco and leather as the fruit starts to subside. Still dark blackish purple, medium to full bodied with hints of oak, its time to drink up.

RM 87 points.