1997 Hahn Estates Meritage, Santa Lucia Highlands ($15). Meritage is a California-coined term for Bordeaux-style red blends based primarily on merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Many have lacked character, but this one is a vibrant example with more than a little Bordeaux character. It displays excellent balance, intense black cherry fruit and a lively acidity not often found in California reds. A little raw when first opened, it quickly settles into a state of exquisite smoothness. This wine, which cries out to be served with a thick barbecued steak or leg of lamb, underscores the potential of the Santa Lucia Highlands region of Monterey County.