Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, North Coast

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COST: $16-18

WHAT: The Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, North Coast, is a rich, intense wine with lots of jammy fruit flavor. It’s a wine that is easy to approach, with smooth plum and raspberry flavors giving way to layers of caramel, cherry and spice.

The blend is 84 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 6 percent Syrah, 5 percent Petite Sirah and 5 percent Merlot. It was aged in French oak barrels (35 percent new) for 12-13 months.

Our friends Bob and Catherine joined us for dinner when we broke out this wine, and we all loved it. We also tried a more expensive Hess, the Allomi Cabernet. I’ve had the Allomi before and liked it.

It was good this time, too, with a bit more intense flavor and more tannins. But for the money, we decided the Hess Select Cab was a much better buy than the Allomi.

The Hess Select wines are made for quick consumption, so this wine probably wouldn’t benefit from much cellaring, though I’m sure you could keep it for a couple of years without losing any taste. The Allomi likely would do better in the cellar.

There was a time years ago when I often was disappointed when I opened a bottle of Hess wine, but I have been impressed with the progress they’ve made with their wines in the past several years. The wines never disappoint and often impress me.

WINERY: Hess Select wines are made from family-owned Hess estate vineyards in Napa Valley and from grower partners who practice sustainable farming in Lake, Napa and Mendocino counties, part of California’s North Coast.

Hess Family Estates dates back to 1844 when it was founded in Switzerland. Donald Hess is the fourth generation of the family to run the business. He opened the Hess Collection Winery on Mount Veeder, 2,000 feet above Napa Valley, in 1978 and has continued to grow the company.

One of the biggest additions was Peter Lehmann Wines in the Barossa Valley of Australia in 2003. The company owns many other wineries, including Colome and Amalaya in Argentina, Glen Carlou in South Africa and Artezin in Napa.

Hess exhibits part of his extensive contemporary art collection at the stunning Hess Collection Winery in Napa. The art is displayed in the original winery built on the site in 1903. The trip up the mountain is worth it for the art alone.

GOES WITH: We had this with pulled pork (a Boston butt I had slow cooked for several hours), and it was wonderful. Cabernet and pulled pork are a great combination, as the tannins and acidity slice through the smoky pork flavors. Everyone enjoyed this wine.

It also would go well with cheeseburgers, barbecued shrimp, some dish that features sweet peppers or caramelized onions or roasted Portobello mushrooms, and mild blue cheese or cheddar cheese.

WINE EVENTS

JUNE 14
Wine and tapas tasting,
5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $19.99; (706) 722-4805

JUNE 15
Wine and beer tasting,
4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; price dependent on flight selection; (706) 922-9463

JUNE 16
Wine and beer tasting,
1-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; price dependent on flight selection; (706) 922-9463

Wine dinner, 6:30 p.m., Casa Blanca, 936 Broad St.; featuring Argentine wine with food to match, $50; the Augusta Tango Club will dance throughout the evening; reservations, (706) 504-3431

JUNE 21
Wine tasting,
5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three white wines and three reds and matching cheeses, $5 with $3 rebate on purchase of one of the featured wines; (803) 279-9522

JUNE 27
Wine tasting,
7 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; featuring Frank Family wines; cost TBA; reservations, (706) 922-9463


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