Monday, October 2, 2017

A Trio from Napa Valley's Hess Collection

The Napa Valley winery, the Hess Collection, is now in its 32nd vintage with most of the wine produced from hillside vineyards such as Mount Veeder. In the mid-1970s, Donald Hess implemented a model to follow European practices and plant on "mountains, hillsides, ridges and bench lands". To accommodate the steep mountain slopes, the vines are planted to ridges which also forces the vines to struggle. I recently received the bounty from Mount Veeder in the Hess Collection Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley ($65.00). The small berries grown on Veeder provide intense fruit in the Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot which comopse this wine. It is delicious - slightly spicy, with both red and dark fruit. The finish is firm, with solid tannins but smooth.

The Hess Collection's Allomi Vineyard is located in Pope Valley on the eastern base of Howell Mountain, a topography that provides rolling hills and well drained soils. The vineyard is sub-divided into 35 unique growing blocks with six different Cabernet clones. These clones are used in the Hess Collection Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley ($32.00); this is an approachable yet sophisticated wine with dark fruit, smokey spices, and firm tannins. Nicely done.

Su’skol Vineyard is the exception to the hillside model as the vineyard is located on flat land situated fewer than 10 miles from San Pablo Bay. The cooling marine influence provides morning fog and afternoon breezes that lower the average daily temperature - an ideal climate for growing Chardonnay like the Hess Collection Chardonnay 2015, Napa Valley ($22.00). Once again multiple clones are used -- providing balance between fruit and acidity. Since only a small portion is fermented in new French oak, the wine possesses depth without the overbearing buttery character. And a Napa bargain at this price.
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