WHAT: This Hess Collection Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2010, is a refreshing, aromatic wine that’s perfect for one of those early spring days when you want to sit on the porch, think deep thoughts and sip some wine. It’s also a wonderful food wine.
Chardonnay haters should try the Hess Collection. It has the smooth, buttery feel of traditional Chardonnay, with lots of bright fruit and solid acidity to give it some backbone.
The wine is fermented mostly in stainless with less than 20 percent spending nine months in French oak. The oak adds some mouthfeel and creaminess, while the stainless allows the bright fruit to show through.
It starts with a gorgeous pale yellow color with tinges of green and powerful aromas of pear, apple, fig, lemon and tangerine. The flavors mix apple, pear and vanilla with hints of lemon and caramel. The finish is long and smooth.
The character of the wine comes from the primary vineyard, Hess’ Su’skol vineyard in the Carneros region in southern Napa Valley.
With its close proximity to San Pablo and San Francisco Bays, the marine influence of cool morning fog and afternoon breezes creates an ideal climate for Chardonnay. The 175-acre vineyard has nine unique Chardonnay clones, giving the winemaker a wide variety of styles to choose from to add layers of complexity to the wine.
WINERY: The Hess Collection traces its roots back to 1844, when Hess Family Estates was founded in Switzerland. Donald Hess, the fourth generation of the family to run the business, opened the Hess Collection Winery on Mount Veeder 2,000 feet above Napa Valley in 1978 and has continued to grow the company.
The winery has specific plans for each vineyard scattered throughout Napa Valley in diverse areas, from cool climate to hot and from steep slopes in the mountains to gentle slopes near the bay.
Donald Hess exhibits part of his extensive contemporary art collection at the Hess Collection Winery in Napa. The art is displayed in the original winery built on the site in 1903 by Col. Theodore Gier and later owned by the Christian Brothers.
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. The company also owns wineries around the world, including Peter Lehmann Wines in the Barossa Valley of Australia, Colome and Amalaya in Argentina, Glen Carlou in South Africa and Artezin in Napa.
GOES WITH: My wife, Teri, and I had this wine with a shrimp creole mix that had plenty of spices. The beautiful fruit in the Chardonnay calmed down the heat and nicely complemented the shrimp.
The wine also pairs well with poached or grilled seafood, shrimp or crab with spicy aioli, baby greens tossed in citrus honey vinaigrette, avocados, fruit salsa, tangerines and triple cream cheeses.