Behind the Cork™ - Panthera Russian River Chardonnay

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2016 Panthera Russian River Valley Chardonnay from The Hess Collection ($45)

This 100% Chardonnay comes from The Hess Collection of wines from the Russian River Valley.

Hess Family wines was founded by Donald Hess in 1978. Today, Tim Persson (Donald’s son in law) and his wife Sabrina are owners of Hess Family Wine Estates and are the fifth generation of the Hess family to lead the company.

Panthera is part of a new collection of wines that are not Hess branded. But it certainly represents the tradition and heritage of Hess wines.

This Panthera Chardonnay has a great balance of pear, peach and hints of pineapple along with some acidity and is rounded out with light oak. The oak comes from 15 months of aging in 35% new French oak.

According to the notes, “The word Panthera is believed to be of East Asian origin, meaning ‘the yellowish animal’ or golden-yellow.” This coloring in indeed striking in this inaugural vintage of Panthera.

This Panthera should please any Chardonnay drinker. Look for it!


Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Donna White of Donna White Communications


Wine: The Tale of Two Pinot Noir's

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Pinot Noir is a wonderful varietal of wine. In the Old World (Europe), Pinot Noir is most famous from the Burgundy region of France. There, it is simply known as ‘Burgundy.’

In the U.S., Pinot Noir is grown in multiple regions. Two notable regions are Sonoma’s Russian River and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. These two regions are producing some excellent Pinot Noir. But, they are quite different.

The differences between Sonoma’s Pinot Noir and Oregon’s Pinot Noir is due to terrior, or the interaction of the soil, climate, topography and how the grape variety grows in the specific region.

The Pinot Noir being produced in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley tends to be light and delicate. Their colors are light, yielding bright cherry red hues with even lighter pink edges on the rim. The flavors include red cherry, cranberry, and raspberry with very delicate, almost non-existent tannin and light finishes.

Now, the Oregon’s Willamette Valley Pinots can be quite different. The Oregon terrior produces bigger and bolder wines, all around. Their colors are deeper, darker red. And their flavors also tend to be of black fruit such as black cherry, currant, fig and plum. They can also have noticeable astringency from their tannin. The words ‘robust’ and ‘muscle’ can be associated with these Pinots.

Both the Sonoma and Oregon Pinot Noir’s are excellent wines; you can’t go wrong with either. But, they also have their very own personalities. So, give them both a try! Cheers!

Behind the Cork ™ - Wine of the Week

Z. Alexander Brown 2014 Russian River Valley Uncaged Pinot Noir ($13)

The Russian River Valley is renowned for its delicious Pinot Noir. And this is another fine example. With aromas of red fruit such as raspberry and cranberry, this Pinot Noir leans more toward a medium-bodied wine with bolder flavors and some tannin.  Overall, it's a nice Russian River Pinot at a great price!