For quite some time, Hess Family Wine Estates has been one of my favorite sources for excellent wine values. Hess is a family-owned, fifth-generation company committed to responsible agricultural and business practices. The Hess family’s wineries in California, South Africa, and Argentina produce award-winning wines made with sustainable production and growing methods, respecting and nurturing the land by, as Donald Hess says, “returning what we take.”
The Hess Family Wine Estates ‘Lion Head Collection’ portfolio includes two non-Hess branded wines: Lion Tamer Red Blend and Panthera Chardonnay. Since the lion has been the emblem of the Hess Family for generations, Lion Tamer is a natural fit for the family’s portfolio. I recently had the opportunity to sample 2016 Lion Tamer Red Blend ($42.99) and was very impressed.
The wine is an interesting blend of 40% Malbec, 27% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Syrah, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Mourvedre, and 1% each of Petite Verdot and Merlot. According to Hess, the name Lion Tamer came from using Malbec in the wine as a “tannin tamer.” Hess has long been known for big, bold, powerful wines.
Says Director of Winemaking Dave Guffy, “I find blending the Lion Tamer wine is both challenging and rewarding, especially when you start with Malbec at the core. The signature of Lion Tamer is a generous palate of black raspberry and surprisingly lush tannins.”
In addition to “taming” tannins, Malbec contributes floral aromas to the wine, while Petite Syrah, Cabernet, and Zinfandel offer up black fruit flavors. This is a lush, elegant, and flat-out delicious red blend that drinks nicely now but will get even better with age.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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