Oh, those tricky tannins. Found naturally in grape skins, tannins contribute tremendously to a wine's structure, texture, and aging ability. Without detectable tannins, you might as well be drinking grape juice and not fine wine. But when a wine is too tannic, its bitter and astringent sensations can knock the wine out of balance so that it tastes too dry and unappealingly abrasive. Tannins can soften over time but the clever winemakers at The Hess Collection have found a surprising solution to soothing the powerful tannins in their Lion Tamer Napa Valley Red Wine 2015 ($45) - Malbec! Yes, Malbec - Argentina's signature red wine grape, with roots in France, has proven itself right at home at Hess's Napa Valley vineyards. In fact, Hess has more Malbec planted on Mount Veeder than any other winery in Napa.
A touch of Malbec finds its way into many of Hess's blends but Lion Tamer 2015 has a hearty 50%, combined with Zinfandel (23%), Petite Sirah (11%), Cabernet Sauvignon (6%) Petit Verdot (4%), Merlot (4%), and Mourvedre (2%). The regal lion has been the emblem of the Hess Family for nine generations. Like a lion tamer who deftly calms the king of the jungle, Hess uses Malbec to coax aggressive tannins into submission in their Lion Tamer wine. But this rich red wine still roars beautifully. Big and luscious with smooth round tannins, Lion Tamer is a rich tapestry of juicy fruit, tinges of spice, and kisses of vanilla. A wow wine!
In addition to the Lion Tamer, the Hess Collection portfolio features a superb selection of wines at various price points, including their Napa Valley Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($32) and Napa Valley Chardonnay 2016 ($22).
Nicole Carter, Director of Winemaking and Chief Marketing Officer for Hess Family Wine Estates
The Hess Collection story begins in 1978 when Swiss entrepreneur and prolific contemporary art collector Donald Hess started acquiring land on Mt. Veeder. Hess was determined to create world-class wines from the rugged California terrain and the winery was established in 1986. Well-established and respected, exciting things lie ahead for Hess - the winery is now under the stewardship of the next generation and talented wine industry veteran Nicole Carter has recently been appointed Director of Winemaking for Hess Family Wine Estates; she will also retain her role of Chief Marketing Officer. In addition to California, Nicole's responsibilities will include oversight over winemaking at Hess's estates in Argentina. Dynamic, innovative, and with prior winemaking experience; Nicole is a force to be reckoned with.
If your travels take you to Napa, schedule a visit to Hess. In addition to wine tasting and fine dining, the estate's Hess Art Museum houses an impressive collection - friends tell me it's fabulous!