Friday, February 20, 2009

Good Crazy, Bad Crazy, and Just Plain Bad

Good crazy: via Decanter, it seems the Terre d'Asti is sponsoring a literary competition for pieces describing "the affinities between the Grignolino grape and football." Submit your piece by April 11. You know you want to!

Bad crazy: also via Decanter, the French government has told its citizens that they should not drink wine. At all. "The Ministry of Health has published guidelines which advise, 'The consumption of alcohol, and especially wine, is discouraged'" (emphasis mine). The ministry cites a study showing a large increased risk of throat and mouth cancer from consuming small amounts of alcohol, though the study is being disputed by others.

Image created by - click for articleAnd in just plain bad news, political web site notes that beer sales plunged dramatically in Q4 2008. Sure, the hit to wine was pretty slim — sales were down 1.6% for wine, compared to a stunning 14% drop for beer — but the portent for wine sales in Q1 2009 is anything but encouraging.

That said, if people stop buying Hahn Monterey Pinot Noir, that can only be a good thing. This was served at a dinner party I went to last Saturday, and that shit is nasty, with a really artificial-feeling mouthfeel, like something was added to increase glycerin levels. I suspect something worse than plain old oak chips. It quite literally made my stomach churn. I'd never say this to my friend who brought it (and sadly, it's his new favorite wine) so let's keep this thought between you and me, eh?


Greg said...

Wicker Parker,
Hi! I am the assistant winemaker here at Hahn Estates Winery in Monterey County, Ca. I read your comments about the Hahn Pinot Noir and while I am very happy you were drinking it, I am saddened that you found it to be disagreeable to your palate. I would explain that our brilliant and uber-talented winemaker, Paul Clifton, has consistently crafted award winning wine brands such as: Cycles Gladiator, Hahn SLH, Hahn Estates, Smith & Hook, Bin 36, Lucienne, Red Flyer, Huntington, Rex Goliath, and many more…helping propel Hahn Winery to become one of the success-story, top producing family owned wineries in the state. Of course, none of this will change how you feel about the Hahn Pinot Noir. I am suspecting that you must have tasted from a “bad” bottle and would love to have you try it again. In reviewing your vast archive of blog posts and reviews, I see you are clearly a man of refined taste and a connoisseur of good food and wine, so you surely tasted something “off”; I don’t dispute your palate. However, we consider ourselves deeply committed to Pinot Noir here at the winery. We make four tiers of Pinot Noir. All are different and all are representative of their origins. We do not craft “cultish” wines suitable only to eccentric palates; we make wines for the overall wine drinking public: accessible, clean, rich, and we aim to overdeliver in quality at the price point. We own over a thousand acres of vines, we crush our wines here and bottle them here as well. I would like you to try all of our Pinots again and perhaps find the beauty and deliciousness in them that we have. Indeed, I invite you to visit our winery, taste our vast barrel room full of individually aging pinot clones, see our hundreds of acres of highest quality pinot noir and ask any questions you might have about our production. Also, I am sending you some wine to try. You can reach me at to schedule a visit. I look forward to winning you over to our pinots!


p.s. I see you were born in the year of the Rooster! Hahn means “Rooster” in German!

Wicker Parker said...

Thanks for writing, Greg. I had two Cycles Gladiator wines some years back (cab and syrah) and I did find them to be clean and accessible, and solid for the $10 asking price.

For this reason or any other, is it possible I had an off bottle of the Hahn pinot? Sure. But there was no obvious heat damage and certainly no TCA. Moreover, my objection was to what (for my taste) was excess sweetness and a weird glycerined mouthfeel, and I'm not sure how bad storage / transport could bring this about. So I strongly suspect that this is a matter of personal taste, particularly as my friend seemed to think it was no different than the previous bottles he'd consumed -- although as I said, it's certainly possible that it was somehow flawed, particularly as January was extra-cold around here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Wicker Parker (gee that's fun to say :) Here's what was added by our wine making team on the sweetness thing ...BTW, I'm Lisa aka @winedivergirl (I handle New Media Marketing for Hahn):

"We do NOT add anything at all to effect the levels of glycerol in our wines. Nor am I aware of anyone doing such a practice. Any sweetness he detects would be the result of either the oak, the alcohol, the tannins, or any residual sugar that remains from fermentation. We ferment our wines to dryness, but there can be up to 0.5 g/100 mL of residual sugar in the wines, which by common industry standards is considered dry."

I'm not exactly a Pinot fan, but I have found some pinot noir's I do like...and isn't that part of the fun of wine; sometimes it is a matter of taste.

Anonymous said...

Wow I am really sorry to hear this!
I expect you got a bad bottle.

While I will agree that it is not a complex pinot, for Hahn's mid-level line, i thought it had excellent QPR.

I hope you will give it another try since I feel strongly this was an off bottle.

You can see my notes here:

Wicker Parker said...

@winedivergirl, thanks for writing and passing along the team's note. They forgot to mention glycerol in the list of qualities that can in a small way impact a wine's apparent sweetness (at levels above 5.2 g/l, per the Oxford Companion) and that there are several yeasts that enhance glycerol, bulk up the mid-palate, etc. I am glad to hear that Hahn does not intentionally pump up glycerol levels but (here comes some speculation) my personal reaction to the wine's mouthfeel might we be due to the yeast used for fermentation., I am glad you enjoyed your experience with the wine. There's a saying: "Drink what you like." There are many, many wines that I'm interested in trying or revisiting, and they are the ones I'll be writing about.

Dr. Vino said...

Hey -

I tweeted about the beer sales decline and a beer guy pointed out that craft beers are doing well (y-o-y at least).

But the open question remains just how this economy will affect vino...

Greg said...

I'll look into the yeast and it's glycerol producing characteristics, that seems more plausible than the flawed bottle, which is unlikely considering the extensive QC the wines go through before hitting the marketplace. I drank a bottle of 2006 Pinot Noir last night and found it delicious and varietally true, nothing offensive about it, of course I am biased, but it seemed quite tasty anyways. There is strong French oak and alcohol synergistically combining to the overall effect of the wine. This may be the sweetness source.

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