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Wines from Monterrey County are worth a try
By Simone Diament

D on't let the price - $7.99 at Crown,Coral Gables - or the large turkey on the whimsical label turn you off, consider it Americana Art. The wines and label art honor HRM (His Royal Majesty) Rex Goliath - a Texas Circus 47lb Rooster billed as the 'World's Largest Rooster'. The mention "free range" on the label is best left to imagination….

The Central Coast is blessed with climatic conditions favorable to slow vine ripening, allowing the grapes to hang longer on the vine to produce wines with intensity, flavor, depth and structure.

HRM Rex Goliath produces Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. "We grow our grapes in 1000 acres of vineyards in Monterrey counties which is the core fruit for Rex Goliath which we supplement from other growers in Monterrey County and Paso Robles,"explained Bill Leigon, the President of Hahn Estates, who works closely with the winemaker Adam LaZarre. "In order to get aged-wine quality we make a blend of oak-aged wines 1999, 2000 and 2001. Some of the blends have been in oak over 18 months, which you would expect from a high quality wine,"Leigon said.

About maintaining the prices? "We own a 1000 acres debt free. We pass the growing costs to the winery. In other wineries someone else owns the vineyards. We've been able to take advantage of the bulk market to purchase great quantities of grapes and crush them ourselves and we've able to get better pricing."

And while the Cab and merlot are non vintage because the goal is to produce a great wine under $10, all the varietals and blends have received medals and awards.

HRM Rex Goliath Central Coast 'Free Range' Pinot Noir 2001.
This medium-bodied varietal is 100% Central Coast Pinot Noir and was good enough to receive the Gold Medal at the 2004 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. (Cases Produced 46,800)

Rex Goliath, Central Coast Cabernet.
This is a hearty cabernet, dark and intense in color, with cedar and oak, layers of raspberry, plum, mocha and currant. Firm tannins and big fruit flavors lead to a good finish. (Cases Produced 99,600)

HRM Rex Goliath! Central Coast 2002 Chardonnay
"With the Chard 2002 vintage the grapes are primarily from Monterrey County. We went to a combination of 20% stainless steel and barrel fermentation in neutral oak. It's a combination because we want to accent the fruit quality,"said Bill Leigon. (Cases Produced 71,700)

HRM Rex Goliath! Central Coast 'Free Range' Merlot
A decidedly spicy nose of black cherry, cassis and cedar in this merlot dominates this ripe and round blend of 88% Merlot and 12% Malbec. If you decant this wine and serve it without your guests seeing the label, the right acidity paired with soft tannins might make it look like any higher-priced fruity merlot.
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