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Wine — Cabernet

Upcoming Tastings & Hahn SLH Pinot Noir on Cover of Wine Spectator

Posted by Tom Kisthart on

Hello everyone,

We're gearing up for our California v. Europe tasting this Friday (6:00 to 8:00, $10 per person). I don't think we're going to have the same wall-busting turnout we had two weeks ago because I've been a little less aggressive in the marketing and there's no beer component to this one.

Next Wednesday we're going to do a free tasting featuring some wines from the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. You've heard me talk about the excellent restaurant on Manhattan Ave. called Trattoria Pasquale. Well they're featuring the rich cuisine of said region in their special February BYOB dinners. Learn more about that at the bottom of this email but first I'd like to give you a sneak preview of Friday's tasting.

Hahn is winery based in an area within Monterey County known as Santa Lucia Highlands. It was Hahn that lead the push to establish SLH as an appellation or American Viticultural Area (the term we use for designated wine growing areas). This is a region for high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the two grapes of probably the world's most interesting and complex wine region Burgundy, France. America's most influential glossy wine magazine the Wine Spectator just glorified Hahn's SLH Pinot by showcasing it on their cover and rating it an outstanding 92 points. Here's the review:

92 points Wine Spectator, SMART BUY
"Impressive, showing density, concentration, depth and persistence, with layers of blackberry, mocha, cedar, spice and berry pie. Finishes with a strong presence. Drink now through 2021." James Laube

Hahn lists this Pinot on their website for $30 but we are able to sell it for only $19.99 until the distributor get's slick and tries to raise the price because of the good press.

This is easily my favorite Pinot Noir in the store under $25. I highly recommend picking some up even if you can't make it to the tasting on Friday. (by the way, my favorite Pinot under $15 is Sola which I've mentioned in a previous email recently)

Also on Friday we're going to taste Hahn's SLH Chardonnay - which is barrel fermented and can compete with pricier names like Rombauer and with more finesse. Smith & Hook is their Cabernet that we'll be pouring as well as their Merlot - forget about how you "don't like Merlot" and give it a shot. It's a solid bottle of wine. We'll also be pouring a non-Hahn Cabernet on Friday called Lodi Estates that I think may overtake the Smith & Hook Cabernet in popularity. We'll just have to see...There will be other California wines besides Hahn and I'll be pouring some dynamite stuff from Europe which I'll talk about in the email Friday. Going to be a fun night.

Back to Trattoria Pasquale. In order to get invited to their 'Big Night' dinners you first need to sign up for their mailing list here. If you want to reserve for next month, email Luigi right away at bolzano64@hotmail.com as the dates get booked quickly. Please tell them that Craft & Curd sent you - Luigi was kind enough to mention us to his email list. It's yet to be seen if he takes my suggestion to start doubling the corkage fee for all non-Italian wines brought to his restaurant. I saw some appalling bottles being drunk at the Umbria 'Big Night' and my mission is to change that.

Here are the dates for February:

Sunday February 21
Monday February 22
Sunday February 28
Monday February 29


Dinner starts at 7:30. I believe the cost is around $40 for 7 courses and their corkage fee for the bottles you bring is very modest. Please confirm with them and tip the servers extra as is customary when you bring your own wine.

The inspiration for these dinners is a film from 1996 with the same name Big Night. Stanley Tucci (with hair, yuk!) plays the maître d in a restaurant that he came to America with his brother (the Chef) to found. The struggle that they discovered speaks to me and I'm sure it speaks to Luigi all to well. Their customers saw Italian food as consisting of just spaghetti and meatballs - whereas the diversity of the regional cuisines of Italy is vast. People didn't get and we're not open to the food they served which put them in jeopardy of going out of business even though their food was remarkable.

Tucci's character has the pragmatic desire to give the people what they want while the Chef would rather expel guests than to give them a side of pasta with their seafood risotto.

I feel the pull of both of these dynamics every single day and luckily I'm a little more Tucci than the chef. Many people just want the spaghetti and meatballs - I'll let you imagine what grape I'm using that as a metaphor for, no naming names - but there is a whole world of beautiful, life enriching options out there. Don't forget your sense of curiosity.  

Hopefully as the business continues to grow, I can keep increasing the amount of Chef in me and continue to decrease (not eliminate) my inner Tucci. I promise to not kick anyone out for only drinking Cabernet (OK I said it). 

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go taste some California Cabernets to consider purchasing for the store. Ciao.