Today’s cellar note has us sipping two new wines from the Hess Family Wine Estates Lion Head Collection. This is the debut vintage of Panthera Chardonnay and the second vintage of Lion Tamer Red Blend. We received both wines as tasting samples.
Donald Hess first purchased acreage on Mount Veeder above Napa Valley in 1982. The site was originally settled in 1876 and around the turn of the century became home to a three-story stone winery that still stands on the property. The Christian Brothers became stewards of the winery during the Great Depression and Donald Hess assumed responsibility for the historic property in 1986.
The winery buildings were extensively renovated prior to the winery’s opening to the public in 1989 and were again renovated following the devastating 2014 Napa earthquake.
Along the way the Hess Collection has been involved in developing and implementing sustainable and best vineyard practices.
The winemaking team includes includes : Randle Johnson (the first Hess Collection winemaker and now lead winemaker for Artezin and consulting winemaker for Colomé), Dave Guffy (Director of Winemaking), Stephanie Pope and Alison Rodriguez.
Hess Family Wine Estates includes the Hess Collection, Hess Select and Artezin in California as well as Bodegas Colomé and Amalaya in Argentina. Names to remember.
2016 Panthera Chardonnay, Russian River Valley — light golden color in the glass with generous aromas of pear and white peach. The flavors follow with stone fruit, grilled pineapple and citrus all framed by toasty oak notes and nice acidity. A bit of weight and roundness in the mouth along with a moderately long finish make for a serious Chardonnay that is perfect for a meal. 14.3% abv. 2729 cases produced. SRP $45.
Even if you prefer unoaked Chardonnay I think you will still enjoy this oaked Chardonnay. The oak doesn’t overwhelm the complex fruit flavors of the Chardonnay fruit, but it does lend complexity and makes for a wonderful food wine. It was divine with a nibble of Saint-André cheese. The wine was aged in 35% new French oak barrels for 15 months.
2016 Lion Tamer Red Blend, Napa Valley — dense ruby in the glass with aromas of juicy blackberries, cherries and plums. Black cherry and boysenberry flavors are joined by dried brush and supported by juicy acidity and grippy tannins. This wine is alive with fruit flavors and acidity. 14.8% abv. 12,320 cases produced. SRP $45.
Red Blend is something of an understatement to describe this blend of 40% Malbec, 27% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Mourvèdre, 1% Petite Verdot and 1% Merlot. Any meal you would pair with red wine would be delicious with this red blend. It was aged in 40% new French oak for 22 months, but the oak flavors are well integrated with the fruit flavors. It really is juicy and delicious, but not at all over ripe.
Our thanks to Donna White Communications for the introduction to these new wines from Hess Family Wine Estates.