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Wine Review: Hess Collection utilizes small-lot production

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The name of the winery featured today is The Hess Collection. That name alone is enough to tell you there is something beyond the ordinary here — and there is.

The Hess Collection is just that, a collection of wines that have been made to exacting standards by experienced and dedicated winemakers.

Because the fruit comes from a variety of vineyards located in California, Argentina and South Africa, the winemakers ferment the grapes in small individual lots. Small lots are important because it helps to maintain the individual nuances of the grapes. The individuality of the fruit, which is derived from the vineyard’s location, is most important to the production of a better wine.

These small lots allow the winemaker to develop a blend that best exemplifies the variety and the style they are striving for. It is very labor-intensive work but it all comes to fruition with the first sip of a Hess Collection wine. Below, three wines from the family’s California vineyards are represented.
Hess Collection 2015 Napa Valley Chardonnay ($22)
Careful growing and small lot fermentation combine to make an exceptional Napa Valley chardonnay. When the bottle is opened, the aromas of pineapple, pear and lemon blossom with accents of vanilla, caramel and a light and elegant touch of oak. On the palate, this medium-bodied wine exhibits ripe pear, pineapple and peach in obvious amounts. The finish is long, fruity and silky smooth. If you have become bored with the look-a-like, taste-a-like chardonnays, trust me, this one will get you interested again.
Hess Collection 2015 Allomi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($32)
The Hess Collection 2015 Select Cabernet Sauvignon was made from grapes drawn from one of the most famous vineyards in the Napa Valley: the Allomi estate. This wine stresses fruit flavors over the usually austere and stiff character of the grape variety. The color is deep and dark and the aroma showcases cherries, spice and vanilla. These carry over to the flavor where they mingle with a raspberry element and the discernible flavors of chocolate and just a hint of oak. This wine has a wonderful softness about it and reflects many of the flavors and aromas that are found only in well-aged wines. Rather than being saved to be served only with the heaviest of meat dishes, this wine’s expansive flavor spectrum allows it to be used with a much broader selection of meat and cheese dishes.
Hess Collection 2014 Mount Veeder 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon ($65)
This wine is a typical Bordeaux blend with a slight twist. The grapes from the Mount Veeder section of Napa Valley are among the most prized and sought after grapes grown there. Casting aside the familiar blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc in what would produce a Bordeaux knockoff, the Hess vintners bent the rules by creating a blend. The wine features 81 percent cabernet sauvignon, 16 percent malbec and 2 percent petite verdot. What resulted is a big, full-flavored, almost overpowering wine of incredible depth and complexity. The aroma is a compendium of interesting sensations, running from black cherries to tobacco to cedar. The flavor accents dark summer berries and cranberries with a whole series of under-flavors ranging from chocolate to mint. There is also a mineral quality in this wine that carries over to the intense finish. This wine can be enjoyed now or set down for a few years to gain greater depth. It is also a great wine accompaniment for red meat or cheese dishes. Although this wine is pricey, to quote the old adage, “you get what you pay for.”

Wine columnist Bennett Bodenstein can be reached at


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