Cheap Wine That Doesn't Suck: Hahn 2008 Monterey Pinot Noir

The Hahn family of Monterey, California, has quietly developed one of the more impressive small portfolios of wineries in the state. From the ubiquitous Cycles Gladiator brand (banned in Alabama because the label reproduces an 1895 poster of a naked woman) on the low end to Smith & Hook and Hahn SLH Estates on the high end, Hahn wines deliver a winning combination of quality and value. 

I've bitched before about how difficult it is to find an affordable Pinot Noir that doesn't taste like cheap Merlot or a soup made from old sweat socks and discarded vine trimmings. So finding out that Hahn's 2008 Monterey Pinot Noir not only sells for a quite reasonable $12 but offers real varietal character in a very agreeable and food-friendly package. 

The cool-climate Monterey appellation doesn't let the grapes overripen, so along with the requisite bright-tasting California fruit you also get hints of cloves and anise and violets, plus just a touch of the earthy funk that's an homage to the superlative wines of Burgundy. Combined with judicious amounts of oak, silky tannins and a good acidic backbone, you've got a wine that drinks way above its price point. 

That's probably enough to get it banned in Alabama too, so I guess they'll have to stick with warm Coke.