Hahn a leader in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay from Santa Lucia Highlands

Director of winemaking Paul Clifton joined Hahn Family Wines in 1993. (Image courtesy of hahnfamilywines.com)

Your wine scribe has been away from home for close to a month to help a family member. I am thrilled to be back behind the keyboard. Hope you love these two wines as much as I do.

“SLH” in big letters dominates the label by Hahn Family Wines to designate their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from one of the most prized Chard and Pinot regions in California: the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County. The Highlands have been grabbing the attention of critics and connoisseurs for three decades. The Santa Lucia Highlands just off Monterey Bay are bordered by mountains and the Salinas Valley, which means this area boasts one of the longest growing seasons in California wine country — ideal for developing layers of flavor in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Swiss-born Nicolaus (Nicky) Hahn and wife Gaby founded the winery in the late 1970s and bottled their first vintage in 1980. Their label has always had a rooster on it — the word “hahn” means rooster in German. They were instrumental in efforts to establish the Highlands as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1991. The Hahns, now with son Philip running the business, own their vineyards and produce all the wines in their cellar. That’s what an “estate” winery is all about.

Hahn SLH Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands 2015, $25: This wine is beautifully styled with perfectly integrated oak, good weight in the mouth and rich flavors — intense apple, ripe pear, honesuckle and vanilla. It’s full-bodied with a round mouthfeel and good spine of acidity to contrast with the fruit. It’s delicious. (It’s 100 percent fermented in small oak barrels and left on the lees, stirred frequently, in the barrels for a year.)

Hahn SLH Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands 2015, $30: Smooth, supple tannins and layers of dark berry fruit, mushroom, toasty oak and spice make this Pinot ever so savory. The fruit is intense, the oak integration seamless. It has lovely weight and complexity in the mouth.

You can reach Sandra Silfven at ssilfven@hotmail.com.