The Lions Head Collection features top of the line wines from Hess Family Wine Estates. A fifth-generation, family-owned company, Hess has always been about quality–in all their labels: The Hess Collection, Lions Head Collection, Hess Select, MacPhail, and Artezin from California–and Bodegas Colome and Amalaya in Argentina.
The Lions Head label was established by the latest generation of the Hess family to showcase premium fruit from California’s finest vineyards:
2017 Panthera Russian River Chardonnay is 100% Russian River fruit aged to creamy perfection in new French oak. At 14.8% abv, this Chardonnay is more a little decadent. 45.00
2017 Lion Tamer Cabernet Sauvignon gets its name from the 8% Malbec (used to tame the “Cabernet lion”)…there is also Petite Sirah in blend–adding even more color and depth. Mouthwatering and layered: mocha, berries, toast–all wrapped in silky tannins. Yikes. 60.00
2017 Luicenne–Hahn Family Wines‘ premium single vineyard Pinot Noirs establish bragging rights for these three Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH) superstars. High above the Salinas Valley, the Santa Lucia Highlands have proven ideal for producing exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. Hahn chose to showcase three of their prize vineyards with single vineyard labels: Doctor’s Vineyard, Lone Tree Vineyard, and Smith Vineyard.
Paul Clifton, Hahn’s award-winning Director of Winemaking, likes to point out that great Pinot happens in the vineyard–and he’s not kidding:
Doctor’s Vineyard is 200-plus acre patch square in the middle of the SLH–a drier and slightly milder climate producing a ripe, hearty Pinot Noir–smooth, round, and lingering. 50.00
Lone Oak Vineyard is a smaller, cooler climate location yielding an aromatic, cherry/spice Pinot whose complexity carries on and on to the end. Outstanding reviews. 50.00
Smith Vineyard was Hahn’s first estate vineyard and it has been producing impressive cool-climate Pinots since the 1970s. Soft raspberry/cherry flavors on a soft but solid body. 50.00
Crazy aromas and mouthwatering flavors explode from FEL‘s tantalizing Pinot Gris. It’s hard to imagine this is the same grape that produces Pinot Grigio. Gooseberry and stone fruit flavors are all over the place. Worth a shot just to see what this little grape can do. Perfect for spicy Asian dishes or white meat. 25.00
As with many German Rieslings, the name is a bit of a mouthfull–but then, so is the wine. Nik Weis is a big name in German Rieslings and his 2018 Bockstein Kabinett is another notch on his belt. Kabinett Rieslings are made from grapes picked earliest in the harvest season–loads of light, bright fruit. Mouthwatering aromas give way to a lush palate of delicately sweet fruit balanced with clean minerality. Sublime. 26.00
2018Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof Bockstein Kabinett Riesling
Viognier is a child of France’s Loire Valley…not a varietal most Americans see very often. Easy fix for that is Cline Family Cellars’ North Coast Viognier with its own juicy tropical fruit, full body, and tangy acidity. What more can you ask from a white? Impressive wine, impressive bargain. If you are one of the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) crowd, Viognier could be a game-changer. 14.00
Viva Italia! And Frescobalid’s 2015 Nipozzano Reserva Chianti (DOCG)!
2015 Nipozanno Classic Chianti Reserva: Tuscan winemaking with tons of prime fruit from vineyards just about twenty miles from Florence. 2015 proved to be an excellent year for the largely Sangiovese grapes in this Reserva Chianti; then twenty four months of barrel time produced a mature, elegant wine with a fresh, spicy character. If you are a fan of Italian reds, this is your bambina! 20.00
2017 Cherry Pie Pinot Noir comes out of Monterey, Santa Barbara, and Napa counties. The Tri-County blend brings out some of the best characteristics of each region. Expect nicely balanced acidity, bing cherry and raspberry, and a long, smooth finish. Cheers for the Cherry Pie! 23.00
Firesteed Cellars, out of Oregon’s Willamette Valley have been making solid wines–at great prices–for a good while now. Nice to see that the 2018 vintage of their Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir don’t disappoint.
Firesteed’s latest Pinot Gris shows lively varietal character and delicate balance. 15.00
2018 Firesteed Pinot Noir is lush, fruit-forward-cherry-strawberry bomb in a glass.
Mullan Road Cellars 2016 Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauviginon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc from some of the Columbia Valley’s prime vineyards. Ideal growing conditions produced outstanding fruit. The result: aromas of plum, currant, and herb leading to a complex palate of black fruit and spice. Satiny tannins and a long finish complete the picture. If this were a Napa blend you could expect to pay considerably more than Mullan’s SRP of 45.00.