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WINE REVIEW: Three Good Value Offerings from Hess

by Andrew Chalk

Donald Hess certainly shows perseverance. When searching out land in Argentina in a project that was ultimately consummated in the highest vineyard in the world, Altura Máxima, at 10,000 ft and winery, Colomé, he was forced back to Buenos Aires by floods that overran the bridges on the road to Salta. It was to be many months before he could try again, and that time, succeeded.

When pitched against this type of adversity one can see that the necklace of properties the Swiss entrepreneur established around the globe (Europe, South Africa, South America, North America) is no vanity project. It has been an obsession most of the 90-year old’s adult life.

Enter these three Hess California wines, priced to be good values, something at which they succeed. The Chardonnay ($12) is a great choice as an everyday white wine. It pairs with white meat, veal, fish, or can be drunk on its own. Despite the low price, it does not descend into industrial quality Chardonnay, something that is all too common nowadays. The respectable price is achieved through clever sourcing from the vast Monterey area south of San Francisco where land and grape prices are still reasonable.

The Cabernet Sauvignon ($17) is type correct and contains enough oak influence to provide a fine foil with barbecue or steaks. It can be drunk now and is not intended for ageing.

The Central Coast Pinot Noir is an example of what other critics have noted, a boom in quality Pinot Noir in California over the last decade. Although holding an MSRP of $20 it can be found for as low as $14 by shopping around. At either price point it is a gem of a value. The nose begins with raspberry, tomato leaf, savory notes and vanilla. On the palate grippy tannins and firm acid provide zing to tart fruit of raspberry and cherry with a herbaceous finish that leaves a long pleasant feeling in the mouth. Serve with pork, veal, cold meats and pasta dishes. Open a bit before the meal for maximum flavor resolution.




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