Tag Archives: wine and food pairing

An Afternoon of Tasting at Hahn Family Wines

by Xochitl Maiman – March 6, 2016

The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Hahn Family Wines exemplifies the quality of premium wine being produced in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of California.

When viewed from above, like from an airplane, the patchwork quilt-like patterns in which agricultural areas are laid out have always interested me. I love the color variations, the vastness of the open space, and the precisely marked out parcels that seem to stretch on forever.view of the Salinas Valley from Hahn Family Wines

So it makes sense that I have viewed many a map of the vineyard locations of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA , 6,100 acres overlooking the Salinas Valley, with fascination and awe. There they are, 50 vineyards sewn in to the hillside’s topography – vineyards like Gary’s, Boekenoogen, Manzoni, Mer Soleil, Pisoni and Doctor’s – where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes flourish and find beautiful expression due to the fog and cooling breezes coming off Monterey Bay.  Last October, I was finally able to visit the region, and the beauty of the mountainside vineyards and the fertile valley below was truly breathtaking!

As part of a group of wine journalists and bloggers, I had been invited to visit the area’s Hahn Family Wines for a tour of the estate vineyards and wine pairing luncheon. With the gorgeous valley as a backdrop, we were first given a show and tell overview of the region by Andy Mitchell, Hahn’s Director of Viticulture, and a member of the Hahn team since 1998.  He also explained the history of Hahn Family Wines beginning with founder, Nicolaus ‘Nicky’ Hahn’s vision over 30 years ago, of the potential of the area to support world-class vineyards.

Andy Mitchell, Director of Viticulture, Hahn Family Wines

Today, son, Philip Hahn, oversees the four estate vineyards in the area and an additional two in Arroyo Seco , from which are created wines for their three labels: Hahn, Hahn SLH and Lucienne.

ATV tour of Hahn Family Wines estate vineyardsAfter our pictorial overview, it was time to get up close and personal with the estate’s vineyards…and view. To my utter delight and excitement, we were escorted to ATV’s for the ride up..and up…and up to about 900’ in elevation.  An exhilarating ride – so much fun!  The reward for a little blown out hair, ( I refused the branded baseball cap offered – vanity, you know),  was a view not only of the valley, but also of the estate’s vineyards, which cover an expansive 650 acres. Basically, beauty every which way you turned.


vineyard view from Hahn Family Wines

LA Wine Writers at Hahn Family Wines

duck confit tacos at Hahn Family Wines

After the obligatory picture taking frenzy, we then gathered in a pavilion to enjoy duck confit tacos with a cherry reduction sauce presented by Executive Chef Dyon Foster, paired with a line-up of their Lucienne label single vineyard Pinot Noir. Winemaker, Greg Freeman, took us through the wines, explaining the differences in vineyards, elevation and the 4 major contributing factors to differences in the wines: fog, sun, wind and clones. Indeed, each wine was quite different, but all were elegantly styled with great acidity, earthy aromas and bright fruit.

Lucienne Pinot Noir at Hahn Family Wines


Another thrilling ATV ride down the hill brought us back to the viewing deck where luncheon tables had been laid.  The menu looked promising and it would end up being an incredible display of culinary deliciousness!

Hahn Family wines Pinot Gris








Wild Caught Sablefish, Risotto, Beurre Noisette – just amazing!

Hahn Family Wines - SLH Chardonnay


Pork Medallion, Cranberry and Corn Polenta

IMG_3733 IMG_3734 IMG_3737

Turns out making wonderful wine isn’t Greg’s only talent…..IMG_3745

Suffice it to say that a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea or Monterey County would not be complete without a visit to Hahn Family Vineyards.  Pack a picnic, arrange a walking or ATV tour, and get acquainted with the wines of the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Hahn Family Wines - Santa Lucia Highlands

I’LL DRINK TO THAT! – I would like to express my gratitude to our hosts at Hahn Family Wines for their gracious hospitality and for providing us with a complete, informative and delicious experience while visiting their beautiful estate. 

Related story: Carmel-by-the-Sea: A Weekend Food and Wine Getaway



Sunday Dinner #3 – Honey Marinated Pork

One of my all time favorite meats is pork tenderloin. There are so many ways to prepare it and it is always tender and juicy whether you grill or roast them whole or pan fry slices. This last Sunday I had to be out all day so it was the perfect opportunity to try a recipe that called for marinating for a few hours. It was ready for cooking when I got home with only the sides to get prepared.




Honey-Marinated Pork w/Gremolata on a bed of Cornbread Dressing

Honey-Marinated Pork w/Gremolata on a bed of Cornbread Dressing



4 cups cubed cornbread, toasted – (1 box Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix can be used instead)

1/4 cup butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large brown onion, diced

5 ribs of celery, sliced

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, sliced and diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp minced sage

about 1/4 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

1/4 cup white wine or 3 Tbsp Jack Daniels

2/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Approx 4 cups chicken stock


In large saute pan over med high heat, sweat onions in butter and olive oil till opaque. Add celery and apple and continue to cool till just tender. Add garlic and saute for 2 more minutes. Add sage and seasoning mix from TJ’s mix, if using. If not, along with sage and Creole Seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste and 1/2 tsp dried thyme and 1 Tbsp dried parsley. Add wine and about 2 cups of chicken stock, cranberries and pecans and simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In large mixing bowl, mix bread cubes and vegetable mixture along with enough additional chicken stock to moisten, but not too mushy. Season again to taste with salt and pepper and more Creole Seasoning. Place in buttered casserole baking dish and bake at 375 degrees along with pork till heated through and slightly crusty on top.


2 12 oz bags of frozen french style green beans

1 lg red onion, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

1 tsp honey

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

In medium saute pan with olive oil and butter, slowly cook onion till deeply browned, about 15-20 minutes. Add honey, balsamic and pinch of salt and cook 1 minute more, stirring. Season with pepper. Can be prepared ahead and set aside.

Cook green beans in boiling salted water just till heated through. Drain immediately and well and add to pan with onions, mixing well. Cook over med heat till warmed. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a bit more Creole Seasoning. ( I put this stuff in everything!)

Presentation: Slice tenderloins and lay overlapping on top of cornbread dressing in casserole. Pour juices from pan over meat then sprinkle with gremolata. Serve with green beans and some really good fresh bread. Pour a full bodied Zinfandel.


Tobin James Fatboy Zinfandel, 2007 – ($55) – The name says it all. This wine is full-bodied, rich and jammy with flavors of star anise and blackberry, and a velvety vanilla finish. This is Paso Zin, folks, not for the meek and mild. Made from grapes sourced from some of the most famous Zinfandel vineyards in Paso Robles, with some being from 50 year old or older vines.  Cheers!

Montage Dinner Menu

A couple of posts ago, (see Larner Vineyards), I mentioned that when I  tasted the 2007 Montage Grenache/Syrah, I detected a figgy quality that inspired me to buy a bottle for a future dinner menu. I created a fig sauce that I have since used on not only grilled veal chops, but chicken with pancetta and pork loin as well, all with delicious results.


Grilled Veal Chops with Fig Balsamic Sauce(see recipe below)

Mashed Potatoes with Garlic, Caramelized Leeks and Mascarpone Cheese

Pancetta Green Beans

Nectarine and Almond Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream and Amaretto



Olive oil

10-12 fresh figs, thinly sliced

1 large shallot, minced

12 oz chicken broth

3 Tbsp F.R.O.G. Jam (fig,raspberry,orange, ginger marmalade – available from Cider Creek Bakery   805/238-4144)

1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tbsp orange juice

1/2 tsp bruised dried thyme, or 1 tsp fresh thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute figs and shallot in olive oil till softened. Add chicken broth, jam and balsamic vinegar and thyme. Simmer till figs are soft and sauce has reduced. Add orange juice,  salt and pepper. Simmer one more minute. Pour over grilled chops.

Note: Please don’t hesitate to order the F.R.O.G. Jam. It won’t go to waste. My friend and I use it in many of our recipes. Use it to top a baked brie or in a BBQ sauce. See the recipe for pork grillers in the post, Navarro Vineyards.


Montage Vineyards – Grenache/Syrah – 2007

This is a rich well rounded wine, the Grenache being from Larner Vineyards in Ballard Canyon. And it did pair beautifully with the veal and fig sauce.