This wine is liquid gold. Well, better than gold according to the 2021 Decanter Wine Awards who showered this wine with a ‘Best in Show’ designation, a 97-point review and the highest spot for any Pinot in the world.
How did this small family winery manage quite a feat? Call it a perfect storm. A special 2018 vintage in California with hot, dry weather and a perfectly even harvest. Santa Lucia Highlands especially enjoyed an ideal summer with lots of sunshine and breeze and temperatures remaining cool. Then, you have winemaker Paul Clifton at the helm, whose work in SLH with Bernardus helped put the winery and the region on the map, and he’s been running the show in the Highlands every since.
With the St. Lucienne wines, Hahn Family showcases their premium single-vineyard wines. Four of them every year. But I’ll save you the time and energy– in 2018, the Smith Vineyard, the oldest estate at the highest elevation performed the best, with the resulting Pinot perfectly ripe, yet high-toned, well balanced and vibrant– a key to delicious Pinot Noir.
The rave 93-point review that this wine received from Josh Raynolds of the Vinous, or the 94-point Wine Enthusiast review would’ve been plenty of accolades for this wine to fly out the door. But given last week’s “Best in Show, 97-Point Showstopping review, today’s price simply doesn’t match today’s lightning in the bottle.
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97 (Best in Show), Decanter Wine Awards
This year’s exceptional Pinot Noir quartet is completed by this striking wine from the Santa Lucia Highlands — a long and scenically beautiful fillet of land lying on the landward side of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range next to the chill waters of Monterey Bay, and alternately fog-chilled and breeze-freshened during summer. The Pinot is dark and sweet-scented, with discreet spice and refined black cherry; there’s a peony allure to give it lift, too. It’s vivid and mouth-filling yet structured, poised and fresh, too: a Pinot that proves that the natural wealth which derives from California’s light and soils can work superbly in delivering Pinot of both nuance and sensual charm.
94 Points, Wine Enthusiast
Rich, opulent aromas of black-cherry cordial and caramel are thick but delicious on the nose of this bottling. Sandy tannins frame the creamy cherry and blackberry flavors, which are lifted by star anise and licorice accents and lead into an oaky finish.
93 Points, Josh Raynolds – Vinous
Vivid red. Vibrant red and blue fruit, candied rose and baking spice qualities on the incisive nose, which picks up a hint of smokiness with air. Juicy and penetrating on the palate, offering gently sweet raspberry and boysenberry flavors and allspice and cola topnotes. Shows excellent clarity and spicy thrust on the clinging finish, which is framed by smooth, harmonious tannins.