Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Hess Collection Mount Veeder Chardonnay 2009, Napa

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PRICE: $34-$36

WHAT: This beautiful, bright, refreshing Chardonnay is a perfect expression of the mountain-grown fruit typical on Mount Veeder.

Aromas of honeysuckle and pear lead to citrus flavors, especially lime with mineral notes. The wine has a creamy mouthfeel with a long, smooth finish. There is no malolactic fermentation, so crisp acidity sustains the fruit flavors.

The grapes are grown in the Veeder Summit Vineyard, 1,300-2,000 feet above sea level. The cool mountain climate and rocky soil produce small berries and concentrated flavors.

Everything is in balance with this wine, with the fruit and acid working together to create an elegant wine. The 100 percent Chardonnay was aged in neutral oak.

I was inspired to try this wine after attending the 12th annual Mount Veeder Wine Tasting held at The Hess Collection winery last weekend. Mount Veeder, near the southwest end of Napa Valley, has the highest elevation of Napa’s mountain districts, with a cool growing season and geologically diverse soils.

While I drank mostly big, bold, complex reds from 24 wineries at the tasting, the region also produces these smooth, interesting white wines.

Donald Hess was attracted to Mount Veeder because he believed the elevation and climate would be ideal for grapes to produce great wines. He made a wise choice.

WINERY: This Napa Valley winery has vineyards that represent the diverse conditions in the Napa Valley, growing grapes in both cool climates and hot. They have gently sloped vineyards along the bay and steep slopes in the mountain sites.

Hess develops specific plans for each site, best suited to the conditions of the particular vineyard. They also support sustainable vineyard practices.

The Hess Collection was founded by Swiss entrepreneur Donald Hess, who first purchased vineyards on Mount Veeder in 1978.

The winery is best known for its flagship Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines, and single vineyard designates from estate vineyards in Napa Valley, such as the Allomi Cab.

A leader in sustainable and organic practices, The Hess Collection adheres to founder Donald Hess’ philosophy: “Nurture the land; return what you take.”

Located in a historic stone winery originally constructed in 1903 by Col. Theodore Gier and later owned by the Christian Brothers, the winery first opened to the public in 1989.

It since has earned international recognition for its wine, culinary and visitor programs, and it provides free public access to Donald Hess’ extensive contemporary art museum.

It is a spectacular setting for enjoying fine wine and art.

The company owns wineries on four continents. They include Peter Lehmann Wines, Glen Carlou, Bodega Colomé and Estancia Colomé, Amalaya, Artezin Wines, Sequana Wines and MacPhail Family Wines.

GOES WITH: I had it with a beautiful salmon that had barely passed over the broiler. The combination was heavenly. The fresh citrus flavors in this wine also pair well with poached or grilled seafood, shrimp or crab with spicy aioli. It also would go well with creamy cheeses.

WINE EVENTS

SEPT. 29

Wine dinner, 6:30 p.m., Calvert’s Restaurant, 475 Highland Ave., $65; featuring Failla wines, owned by Ehren Jordan, winemaker for Turley wines; reservations, Ninth Street Wine Market, (706) 724-1442

SEPT. 30

Wines of South America seminar/tasting, 7-9 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; $15 advance, $20 at door; reservations, Wine World, (803) 279-9522

Octoberfest beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m., The Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

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