Hahn Family Wine Country Tapas at Automat:
There are times when my diary is really full – and then I get an invite I just don’t want to refuse. Hahn Family Wines ‘Wine Country Tapas’ was just such an occasion. I’d been at a trade show all week. And, the next morning I was due to fly out to Tuscany. Nothing was packed. Some things hadn’t even made it into the washing machine so that they COULD be packed. But I know I made the right decision because I tasted some fabulous wines, ate some great food – and hey, I may have packed everything without ironing it, but it would have got crumpled in my case anyway!
My apologies though for not writing up this event a little sooner. I’m now sitting in a grey London flat looking wistfully at photos of vineyards in California like the one above though, so perhaps I have got my just desserts!
Automat is a rather upmarket American style diner on Dover Street. We were in the back room, seated at the chefs table and our menu was a specially prepared Californian wine country tapas which Bill Legion and Evelyn Pool from Hahn Family wines explained was one of the ways they liked to introduce their wines.
Before we started eating, we all enjoyed an aperitif of Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir and heard a bit more about the wines from Bill, who is President of Hahn Valley wines.
Located in the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, the Hahn Estates wines come from six separate vineyards, each with their own distinct terroir. So, for example, Lone Oak is a northern vineyard with cooler temperatures and lighter winds and with regular fog that burns off late in the day. It’s ideal for growing Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
By comparison, the newest of the vineyards, ‘Doctor’s Vineyard is further South in the Santa Lucia Highlands and produces 11 different pinot noir clones and 5 syrah clones. The wines are deeper in colour with firm tannins.
Perhaps the most significant effect on the estate other than the mountainous terroir, comes from the nearby Blue Grand Canyon which is a massive two miles deep and very cold. The chill effect from the cold water it carries creates a wind which then helps to keep the vines of Hahn Family Vineyards at an optimal temperature through the hot summer months.
The result is predominantly lighter and very drinkable wines, both red and white, that we enjoyed throughout our meal.
We started with a lobster cappuccino. Now, at this stage we had tastes of both the Hahn Winery Pinot Gris 2011 and the Hahn Winery Chardonnay. The lobster cappuccino was deep and buttery and for me, the Chardonnay was a much better pairing. And when we went on to eat a delicious (even egg haters like me can’t turn down) smoked egg yolk with autumn vegetable salad, for me it really came into its own.
But, I reverted to the Pinot Gris for the seared scallop with Jerusalem artichoke and bacon.
We went on to enjoy a wild mushroom risotto with parmesan – in my case with the Hahn Winery 2010 Pinot Noir which I loved and continued to drink with the Confit Pork Belly. And, what’s more, you can buy it and the Chardonnay from Waitrose…so I might just indulge!
Hahn Winery have a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) which is something I’ve never (knowingly) tried before. It was really quite delicious and a great match for the fillet of beef.
Finally, we tried the curiously named Boneshaker Zinfandel. For me a great wine that I would happily enjoy by itself, although since I have Venison for Christmas Lunch usually, I’d love to try it with that and then with Christmas pudding. It’s a full-on wine with immense jammy flavour.
Overall, the afternoon was a great success for me. I’m not a great wine expert and Californian wines are often too heavy to be something I’d choose for every day drinking. But, these are lighter and more complex.
I love food and wine pairing events and for me, it can be the best way to showcase wines. I get a much better appreciation of the wine by trying it with one or two different dishes and seeing how each works with the drink. With thanks to Bill Legion and Evelyn Pool from Hahn Family Wines and to Belinda from Patriache Wines who are the UK distributors for Hahn Wines.