Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ehlers Estate – St. Helena, California

Founders and History

The Ehlers Estate Winery is another piece of the Napa Valley’s forgotten winery history. Like many other historic sites, it was originally established before the Prohibition, the Phylloxera plague, the Great Depression and the two World Wars that devastated California’s wine culture.

It was originally founded in 1886 by Bernard Ehlers who built the stone winery and etched his name in the stone above the doorway. Ehlers purchased the estate for $7,000 in gold coins (equivalent to $176,143 in 2013) from a winemaker who went bankrupt fighting the Phylloxera plague that devastated many of the Napa Valley vineyards in the late 1800s to early 1900s. 

In 1901 Bernard died and left the winery to his wife, Anna, who maintained the property for the next 15 years. Over the next few decades the vineyard changed hands but it remained in production, even through the Prohibition. In 1923, Alfred Domingos purchased the land and then began selling bootleg wine and brandy for thirsty travelers from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Then during the California wine renaissance of the early 1970s the Estate became home to a number of small new wineries including Conn Creek Winery, Saintsbury, and Stratford Winery.

In 1982, Jean and Sylviane Leducq established the Prince Michel Vineyards and Winery in Virginia.[1] Jean Leducq made his money as a French entrepreneur who built a successful international business involving the supply and care of linens and uniforms in Europe and North America.[2]

Then in 1987, under the direction of French enologist Jacques Boissenot, they purchased 7 acres of vineyard in St. Helena that were part of the original land tract belonging to W.W. Lyman.[3] In May 2001 they then purchased the original stone winery and estate home built by Bernard Ehlers in St. Helena, and its adjacent land reunifying the original 14-acre Ehlers Estate property with contiguous vineyard parcels to create a 43-acre estate.

Ehlers Estate’s inaugural wine was the 2000 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon. The following year, they produced their first Merlot (2002 vintage) and added its flagship wine, the estate-grown “1886” Cabernet Sauvignon.  

A Non-Profit Winery With A Heart

Shortly before the sale of the linens and uniforms business they created the Leducq Foundation, which was officially recognized by the French government in November 1996. Since Jean Leducq’s death in 2002, Sylviane Leducq has carried on the work of the foundation. She currently serves as President of the foundation’s board of directors. In 2009, Sylviane Leducq was awarded the French Légion d’Honneur in recognition of her generosity and leadership of the foundation. The strategic development of the foundation is guided by a 14-member Scientific Advisory Committee composed of international experts in cardiology, cardiac surgery, and neurovascular medicine.[4] The stewardship of Ehlers Estate is now in the hands of the Leducq Foundation, making it a non-profit winery.

If you look at the “E” in the Ehler’s logo sidewise you can see the shape of a heart and the One Twenty Over Eighty Cabernet Sauvignon (120/80 is the ideal blood pressure for the heart) are an homage to the Leducq Foundation’s devotion to advancing cardiovascular medicine.

The Winemaker

Ehlers Estate’s winemaker is Kevin Morrisey whose career began in 1998 when he started working for Stags’ Leap Winery after earning his MA. in enology from U.C. Davis. Over the next five years he became the estate’s associate winemaker. In 2003 he left to serve as the winemaker and director of operations at Etude Wines. In 2005, Kevin returned to Stags’ Leap Winery to take over as winemaker and general manager but then he re-joined Ehlers Estate in 2009.

The Vineyards

The historic and diverse vineyards of Ehlers Estate are planted on rocky, loamy, northern St. Helena benchland. Guided by Winemaker Kevin Morrisey, the Ehlers Estate viticulture program embraced organic farming in 2004 and adopted biodynamic farming practices in early 2005. Beginning with the 2005 red wine vintage and the 2007 white wine vintage, all Ehlers Estate wines have been crafted exclusively from certified organic, estate-grown grapes.

The Wines

While visiting I sampled the following wines:

The first wine was the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is clean water-white with a tint of green. The nose exemplifies a warmer climate Sauvignon Blanc with pronounced aromas of tropical fruits, apricots, grapefruit and subtle floral notes. On the palate it is medium- in body with medium+ acidity and a long finish with lingering notes of grapefruit-zest, lemon and a chalky minerality. If you like Sauvignon Blancs that aren’t grassy, herbal or have a whiff of cat-pee then this one is for you. This wine sells for $28 per bottle.

The second pour was the 2010 Merlot, a blend of 97% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. On the nose this wine has intense aromas of dusty black cherries, black licorice, dark chocolate and a hint of mint. On the palate this wine is BIG with chewy medium+ tannins, medium+ body and a prolonged finish. It is well balanced with good structure and a well pleasing overall mouth feel. In a blind taste test this wine could easily be mistaken for a Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine sells for $45 per bottle and I brought one home.

The third wine was the 2010 One Twenty Over Eighty Cabernet Sauvignon - a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. This wine is black at the core to dark ruby at the rim with intense aromas of black currants, cassis, anise, damp earth, pipe tobacco, a hint of smoke and mint. On the palate it is fruit forward, medium bodied with medium+ tannins that are supple and refined, it has a medium+ complexity and a long finish. A great wine for $45 per bottle and if my cellar wasn’t already fully stocked with Napa Cabs I would have brought one home.

The fourth and final wine was the 2010 “1886” Cabernet Sauvignon - a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cab Franc, 7% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. On the nose this wine has pronounced aromas of cassis, smoky meat, mocha, and chocolate covered cherries. On the palate it is fruit forward, juicy and full bodied with medium+ tannins, medium+ acidity and a prolonged finish. This is a very delicious wine that would beat many $125+ Napa Valley Cabs in a blind tasting competition. This wine sells for $95 per bottle.

To see more pictures of Ehlers Estate, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography:

To visit or for more information:

Ehlers Estate

3222 Ehlers Lane

St Helena, CA 94574

Phone: 1-707-963-5972

[3] William Whittingham Lyman (July 28, 1850 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – 1921) was the son of Theodore Benedict Lyman. He built the Lyman winery, now known as the El Molino winery. At one point owned what has now become Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Joseph Phelps Vineyards and Winery – St. Helena, California

There are a number of iconic “cult” Cabernets and Bordeaux blends in the Napa Valley that at one time or another in their life every wine lover must taste - Opus One, Quintessa, Franciscan’s Magnificat, Beaulieu Vineyards’ Georges de Latour, Shafer’s Hillside Select, Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate’s Cabernet Sauvignon… the list goes on. But among those at the top of the list is without a doubt Joseph Phelps’ Insignia. Not only do they produce one of the finest Meritage blends in the valley, their estate is also one of the most beautiful as you can sample their wines while enjoying absolutely stunning views of their vineyards.

The Founder

If you ever visit Rutherford Hill Winery and then visit Joseph Phelps Vineyards and Winery you will notice a striking resemblance in the style of architecture. This is because both were designed by architect John Marsh David and built by Joseph Phelps.[1]  

Back in the late 1960’s Joseph Phelps was running a construction company when he won the bid to build Souverain Winery (now Rutherford Hill) which overlooks the Napa Valley from above the east side of St. Helena. It was at that time that he fell in love with the beauty of the valley and decided to go into the wine business.

The Vineyards

In 1973 Joseph bought the 600-acre Connolly cattle ranch in Spring Valley and began planting vineyards. A year later the winery was completed and the first vintage of Syrah was made, the first grapes were crushed at the new facility and the first Insignia was produced from sourced grapes. However, the goal was to eventually produce all of his wines from 100% estate grown grapes. So, over the years, the winery acquired vineyards including the Spring Valley Home Ranch outside of St. Helena, Banca Dorada in Rutherford, Las Rocas and Barboza vineyards in Stags Leap, Yountville Vineyard in Oak Knoll, Suscol Vineyard in South Napa, Backus Vineyard in Oakville and Larry Hyde and Sons Vineyard in Carneros.

Originally Chardonnay was sourced from St. Helena, later from Yountville and then from Los Carneros. Then in 1999 they began developing 100 acres of vineyards five miles from the Pacific Ocean in Freestone, located in the Sonoma Coast AVA. Today, 80 acres of Pinot Noir and 20 acres of Chardonnay provide for their estate-grown Burgundian wines.

In 2005, construction began on a new winery which was completed in time for the 2007 harvest. Beginning with the 2009 vintage, their estate-grown wines included Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard (the single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville) and their flagship wine - Insignia. They also began producing a dessert wine called Eisrébe and a Syrah is from the Larry Hyde and Sons Vineyard in Carneros.

Joseph Phelps Vineyards believes in and practices organic, natural, sustainable farming techniques and they utilize biodynamic farming when possible.
The Winemaking Team

Joseph Phelps Vineyards utilizes a team to produce their wines.

Winemaker Damian Parker serves as the Director of Winemaking of both Joseph Phelps Vineyards and Freestone Vineyards. His wine career began in 1977 as a harvest job at Chateau Souverain in Geyserville. He worked there for four years and then came to Joseph Phelps in the summer of 1981 as a bottling line supervisor. Nine years later he became the cellar master and in 1997 was promoted to Vice President in charge of production and in 2008 was named Director of Winemaking.

Winemaker Ashley Hepworth joined in 1999 as a harvest intern and stayed on to become a laboratory technician and enologist. In 2004 she was named Associate Winemaker and in October of 2008 was promoted to Winemaker. Ashley attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado where she earned a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. In 2006 she earned a Winemaking Certificate from the Viticulture and Enology Department at the U.C. Davis.

Assistant Winemaker and Justin Ennis came to Joseph Phelps in 2007 after working nine years as cellarmaster for William Selyem Winery in Healdsburg, as well as harvest supervisor and cellarmaster for wineries in New Zealand and Argentina. Just has taken numerous extension classes at U.C. Davis focusing on all aspects of viticulture and winemaking.

Assistant Winemaker Kelly Fields Kelly has a B.A. degree in Microbiology from U.C. San Diego. In May 2005 she joined Joseph Phelps as Laboratory Technician/Quality Control Specialist. In 2007 she was promoted to Enologist and in 2011 she was promoted to Assistant Winemaker.

Director of Vineyard Operations Philippe Pessereau was born in Tours, France. His career in viticulture and oenology began in the Sauternes winegrowing region in France. From 1986-1987 he studied at the École La Tour Blanche and earned a BTAO in Oenology-Viticulture. After completing the 1987 harvest at Château Haut-Brion in Talence, France, he moved to the United States and worked for several wineries. From 1990-1995 he did his undergraduate studies at the College of Marin in Biology/Biological Sciences. In 1995, Philippe graduated from U.C. Davis with a B.S. in Plant Biology and in 1998 completed an M.S. in viticulture. That same year he was hired by Joseph Phelps Vineyards as a viticulturist and in 2003 was promoted to Director of Vineyard Operations.

The Wines

While visiting I sampled the following wines:

The first wine was the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, St. Helena. This wine was aged for 7 months in 35% new French oak which reveals itself with a softer feel on the mid palate and finish. On the nose this wine exudes aromas of grapefruit, lemon drop and melon rind. On the palate it has a medium body, it is very crisp with medium+ acidity up front but then is soft on the mid palate and back end with additional notes of apricots and lime on medium+ length finish. If you want a Sauvignon Blanc that isn’t razor sharp from beginning to end and you’re not looking for the chalky minerality of a Sancerre, then this wine is for you for $35 per bottle.

The first wine was the 2011 Chardonnay, Freestone Vineyards. This wine was barrel fermented, sur lee for 13 months in 40% new and 60% 2 to  3 old French oak puncheons and barrels. This wine is clear, golden-yellow with aromas of white flowers, tropical fruit, bananas, butter and popcorn with a hint of crème brûlée, hazelnut and oak. On the palate it is rich and creamy with additional notes of crisp green apples, peaches and apricots. It is medium bodied with medium+ acidity and long finish. This wine sells for $55 per bottle.

The second pour was the 2011 Pinot Noir, Freestone Vineyards (59% Pastorale Vineyard and 41% Quarter Moon Vineyard) – Sonoma, Coast. This wine is clear ruby red and on the nose it delivers aromas of tart strawberries, cranberries, cherries and plums with a hint of dried cinnamon stick and spice. On the palate it has refined medium tannins that have a little grip, medium body and medium+ acidity. There are a lot of wines like this on the market in the $35-$45 range, but this one sells for $55 per bottle.

The third wine was the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. This wine is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6$ Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot. It is dark purple at the core to violet at the rim and it stains the glass when swirled. On the nose this wine has medium intensity aromas of black currants, dusty wild blackberries, baker’s chocolate, dried herbs and vanilla bean. On entry this wine is dry and supple but then the tannins kick in with a lot of grip. It has medium body, medium+ acidity and a medium length finish. This wine sells for $65 per bottle.

The fourth wine was the 2009 Insignia, a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot and 4% Malbec. On the nose this wine exudes aromas of cassis, dark cherries, blueberries, mocha and vanilla. On the palate it is soft on entry but then the refined tannins grip the teeth and gums. It has a medium body, medium+ acidity and a lengthy finish with hints of sweet raisins on the return. It is well balanced and absolutely delicious from beginning to end, yet it also seems a bit youthful and could use more time in the bottle. This wine sells for $200 per bottle.

The final wine was 2011 Eisrebe. This is a very unique dessert wine made in the Eiswein-style from the Scheurebe (pronounced “shoy ray beh”) grape. Most late-harvest, Sauterne-style, or Eiswein-style wines made in California (which are few and far between) are either made from Riesling, a Muscat grape or from Sémillon. Scheurebe is a white wine grape variety that is primarily grown in Germany and Austria where it often is called Sämling 88. It was created by German viticulturalist Dr. Georg Scheu (1879–1949) in 1916, by crossing Silvaner and Riesling. On the nose this wine has luscious aromas of citrus, white flowers, canned peaches and a hint of honey. It is medium bodied and very sweet but not syrupy with very high acidity and a prolonged finish with additional notes of mandarin oranges. This wine sells for $50 per 375 ml bottle.

To see more pictures of Joseph Phelps, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography:

To visit or for more information:

Joseph Phelps Vineyards and Winery

200 Taplin Road

St. Helena, CA 94574

Phone: 1-800-707-5789


Monday, August 19, 2013

Artesa Vineyards and Winery – Napa, California

Artesa Vineyards and Winery is a 150-acre estate located in the back roads and set on a hill top in the Carneros AVA, a region known for its ideal terroir for cool climate grapes such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 
After following the long driveway winding up the hill you ascend two flights of stairs. As you approach the tasting room you are greeted by water jetting from modern fountains from which you can look out over the valley below and the breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay and its own estate vineyards.

The winery was founded by the Codorníu Group, the Raventós family, of the Penedès region of Spain, west of Barcelona.  They are the oldest family business in Spain and the 17th oldest in the world. They own 6 wineries and have a winemaking history that dates back to the mid-sixteenth century. In fact, Jaume Codorníu owned vineyards and was operating a winery in Sant Sadurní as early as 1551.

In 1659 Anna de Codorníu and Miquel Raventós married bringing the two winemaking families together. Two centuries later in 1872 Josep Raventós, one of their descendants, made the first bottle of sparkling wine outside of Champagne, France using the traditional method. The new sparkling wine was called “cava” after the caves or aging cellars.[1]

Seeking to bring the family tradition of making méthode champenoise sparkling wine to North America, they first opened Codorniu Napa in 1991. Then in 1997 the winery had a significant makeover with a new winemaker and a $10 million reconstruction. The winery was then re-opened in September 1999 at which time the winery’s name was changed to Artesa (ahr TESS uh), meaning “craftsman” in Catalan, the language of Barcelona.

The Winemaker

The winemaker for Artesa is Don Van Staaveren who has an extensive background in the craft. He was the winemaker for Arrowood (1990-1997) as he has also been the winemaker for Durell Vineyard for over 25 years. He is also the Head Winemaker at Three Sticks Winery and Silverpoint Cellars.[2] He is most well-known for being the winemaker for Chateau St. Jean (1990-1997) and helping to create 1996 Cinq Cépages, Wine Spectator’s ‘No. 1 Wine in the World’ in 1999.[3]

The Vineyards and The Wines

Today, Artesa focuses on ultra-premium wines for which the Carneros and the Napa Valley are best suited - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The grapes sourced from its 330 acres of vineyards in Carneros, Foss Valley Vineyards in the Atlas Peak AVA of Napa and the Alexander Valley AVA of Sonoma. The 150 acres of Carneros vineyards are devoted primarily to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Artesa produces both a Classic Tier and Reserve Tier of Pinot Noir along with Limited Release Wines as vintages dictate.

Although Artesa produces 10 different Bordeaux varietal wines from a variety of vineyards throughout the Napa Valley as well as a sparkling wine I decided to focus entirely on what the Carneros does best – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. So, while visiting I sampled the following wines:

The first wine was the 2011 Chardonnay, Carneros. The wine is clear pale straw in color with aromas of canned pears, dried apricots, hints of banana chips, and melon with mild floral aromas. On the palate it is full to medium+ bodied, crisp with medium+ acidity and a prolonged finish with a hint of hazelnut on the return. A well balanced wine with a value driven price at $20 per bottle.

The second pour was the 2011 Limited Release Chardonnay, Carneros. A more robust Chardonnay than the previous sample, this wine displays pronounced aromas of canned pears, tropical fruit, bananas, and a hint of butter. On the palate it is full bodied, rich and creamy and yet isn’t over-the-top as the fruit remains the major player. It is well balanced and it maintains is crisp acidity with a prolonged finish. This wine sells for $42 per bottle.

The third wine was the 2011 Estate Reserve Chardonnay, Carneros. An even bigger and more intense wine than the previous pours, this wine delivers pronounced tropical aromas, stone fruit, apricots, peaches, lemon-lime, coconut and sweet butter. On the palate it is full bodied and creamy, very rich and yet it is well balanced and maintains ample acidity with a prolonged finish. This wine sells for $35 per bottle.

Qualitatively these three Chardonnays are on par with each other, the primary difference is what style you prefer and the degree of how BIG and more of a California-style a wine you desire. I then transitioned to tasting four Pinot Noirs. Normally they do not offer Pinot Noir stemware, so I brought my own.

The fourth wine was the 2010 Pinot Noir, Carneros. On the nose this wine has pronounced aromas of strawberry preserves, cherries, dried roses and cinnamon. On the palate it is medium bodied with medium+ acidity, refined tannins with a medium length finish. A hallmark Carneros Pinot Noir and yet sells for $5 - $10 less than many comparable wines on the market at $25 per bottle.

The fifth wine was 2011 Limited Release Pinot Noir, Carneros. On the nose this wine is smoky with dark cherries and strawberries wrapped in bacon. On the palate it is medium bodied, a little soft on the tannins and has a medium+ length finish. This wine sells for $50 per bottle.

The sixth wine was 2011 Sangiacomo Pinot Noir, Carneros. On the nose this wine displays vibrant raspberries, cherries, and a hint of smoke. It is similar to the previous wine but it has greater acidity and a longer finish. This wine sells for $80 per bottle.

The final wine was 2010 Reserve Estate Pinot Noir, Carneros. On the nose this wine is very complex with pronounced fruit aromas of raspberries, strawberries, dark cherries and yet also has a pronounced bouquet of root beer, cola, earth and a hint of rubber tires. On the palate it has refined tannins, it is medium bodied with a very long finish. This wine was my favorite in the line-up and I brought one home for $40.

To see more pictures of Artesa, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography:

To visit or for more information:

Artesa Vineyards and Winery

1345 Henry Rd

Napa, CA 94559

Phone: 1-707-224-1668


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Hess Collection – Napa, California

Wine, fine dining, music and art are perfect compliments to a trip to the wine country. While the genre of music and style of art may differ, it is not uncommon to find food and wine pairings, live music and various types of art on display at wineries. Wineries such as Turnbull, Markham and Mumm have photography galleries while others such as Clos Pegase have modern paintings, statues and abstract art. So, if you want more than just a venue that serves wine these are great destinations. The Hess Collection is another winery that marries art and wine and they provide free public access to Donald Hess’ extensive private collection at the contemporary Art Museum. 
History and Founder

The historic stone winery that is home to The Hess Collection was originally constructed by Colonel Theodore Gier in 1903. It is not uncommon to hear about historic Napa Valley estates that either closed due to Prohibition or remained opened because they sold sacramental wine to the church. What we don’t hear much about is the history of those who resisted the Prohibition and suffered the consequences.

Colonel Gier was born in Hanover, Germany in 1860. About 20 years later he immigrated to the U.S.A. and eventually pursued the wine business, purchasing vineyards in Alameda County, Livermore, and the Napa Valley. After coming to America he maintained strong ties with Germany, and even received a medal from Kaiser Wilhelm. Later he was arrested during World War I for singing patriotic German songs about our German enemy.

In 1929 Colonel Gier’s winery was closed because he continued to sell wine and was subsequently arrested and heavy fines were imposed which brought his business to an end. He then sold the winery to the Christian Brothers who produced Mont La Salle wines at the winery.

In 1966 Swiss entrepreneur Donald Hess’ began collecting art. Today his extensive collection comprises 1,000+ works of art of 65 international living artists of whose works he has followed throughout their careers.

In 1978 Donald purchased vineyards on Mount Veeder and then accumulated additional property bringing the total to 900 acres in 1982.  Then in 1986 he leased the winery from the Christian Brothers. The courtyard garden at the entrance to the visitor center, designed by landscape architect Peter Walker, is bordered by a reflecting pool that carries on the tradition of Gier’s lily pads, with stone sourced from the original quarry. The winery opened to the public in 1989.

Today Donald Hess owns eight wineries in four countries including the U.S., Argentina, Australia, and South Africa. His four U.S. wineries - Artezin, the Hess Collection, Mac Phail Wines, and Sequana - are in northern California. His art collection is displayed at his four museums and four of his wineries including the Hess Collection winery, one in Argentina, one in South Africa and one at his winery in Australia.

The Vineyards and the Wines

The Hess Collection has four vineyards totaling 635 acres on which grow 14 different grape varietals. Two of the vineyards are on Mt. Veeder near the winery. The vineyards are in a variety of microclimates at altitudes ranging from 50 to 2,000 feet above sea level.

The Hess Collection Winery is best known for its flagship Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon, and they also produce single vineyard designated wines from two additional Napa Valley estates. At the tasting room they serve nine wines that are distributed as well as eight wines that are only available at the tasting room. While visiting I chose to mostly focus on the “winery exclusive” wines some of which were the following wines:

The first wine was the 2012 Hess Small Block Pinot Gris. Visually this wine is near water-white and on the nose it has subtle hints of melon, pineapple, grapefruit peel and white flowers. On the palate it has very intense flavors of orange zest, lemon, grapefruit, and dried apricots. It is light in body with crisp medium+ acidity and a prolonged finish. This wine is not distributed and only available at the winery and it sells for $28 per bottle.

The second pour was the 2010 Artezin Mourvedre, Evangelho Vineyard This wine is clear dark ruby red with pronounced aromas of dusty wild blackberries, dried plums, dried roses, dates and a hint of spice. On the palate it is fruit forward with well refined medium+ tannins, it is full-bodied with ample acidity but supple on the mid palate and additional notes of vanilla and dark cherries on a medium+ length finish. This wine is not distributed and only available at the winery. This wine sells for $32 per bottle.

The third wine was the 2009 Artezin Charbono, Napa Valley. A blend of 96% Charbono  and 4% Petit Sirah. There isn’t very much Charbono being grown anywhere in California, let alone the Napa Valley. Charbono is also known as Douce Noir, Bonarda, and Corbeau. It is a red French wine grape variety that has been historically grown in the Savoie wine region of eastern France but today is more widely planted in Argentina where it is second only to Malbec. This wine is inky black at the core and violet at the rim. The nose on this wine is very tight so it takes a while for it to open up and display any aromas. But after much swirling I picked up subtle aromas of black currants, figs and dusty wild blackberries. On the palate it is very soft with grainy tannins, a medium body, medium acidity and a medium length finish. This wine is not distributed and only available at the winery and it sells for $30 per bottle.

The fourth wine was the 2010 Petite Sirah, Allomi Vineyard. This wine is inky black at the core to dark purple at the rim with tears that stain the glass. On the nose the aromas are very dense and concentrated consisting of dusty blackberries, dried black fruits, freshly cracked black pepper, bramble bush, and a hint of herbs and spice. On the palate it has more intense fruit and more black pepper that doesn’t interfere or overwhelm the fruit. This wine is not distributed and only available at the winery and it sells for $36 per bottle.

The final wine was the 2008 “The Lion” – a blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Malbec.  This wine is dark black at the core to ruby at the rim. On the nose it delivers seductive aromas of black currants, dark cherries, blackberries, black licorice, damp earth and vanilla. On the palate it explodes on entry with rich dark chocolate and juicy fruit. It is full bodied with silky tannins, mouthwatering acidity and it has a very long finish with more vanilla on the return. This is an absolutely delicious wine sells which for $125 per bottle.

To visit or for more information:

The Hess Collection
4411 Redwood Road
Napa, CA 94558
Phone: 1-707- 255-1144