by Fred McMillin
for August 19, 1997

A Santa Lucia Masterpiece

Prologue:

  • 1974—Dr. Robert Goheen of U.C.-Davis selects particular clones of Cabernet Sauvignon to be planted 1200 feet above the floor of the Salinas Valley on the eastern slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains.

    ...Robert Lawrence Balzer in his 'California Wines"

  • 1984—Ten years later, Robert Balzer tastes these Santa Lucia Highlands Cabernets of Smith and Hook and pronounces them "superb."

  • 1997—Winemaker Art Nathan selects the 20 best barrels of his intensely-flavored 1994 vintage. They produce 419 cases of Smith and Hook 1994 MASTERPIECE EDITION of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. My panel tastes the Masterpiece and pronounces it superb.
The Rest of the Story : Smith and Hook was conceived as a Cabernet-only winery. Although it now is diversifying into Metlot and Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon is still the flagship, and this Masterpiece proves it.

1994 Cabernet Sauvignon, "Masterpiece Edition"
Appellation—Santa Lucia Highlands
Smith and Hook Winery
Soledad, Monterey County, CA
Owners—The Nicholas Hahn Family, from Germany
Phone—(408) 678-2132
Food Affinities—Game, beef, and powerful pasta
$35

Postscript: How much wine did original owners, Mr. Smith and Mr. Hook produce? Well, they were ranchers, not vintners, and never sold a drop of wine.


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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