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


Behind the Cork™ - Lion Tamer Red Blend

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2016 Lion Tamer Red - The Hess Collection ($45)

This red blend comes from The Hess Collection of wines from Napa 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.

The Lion Tamer 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 red blend is comprised of 40% Malbec, 27% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Mourvedre, 1% Petite Verdot and 1% Merlot.

While the Lion has been the emblem of the Hess Family for nine generations and the name Lion Tamer has become the nickname for Malbec because of their use of Malbec to ‘tame’ the tannin in their Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

The Malbec certainly does its job in taming this wine. It’s amazingly smooth and full of big juicy dark fruit flavors of black plum, black currant, cassis and boysenberry. This wine is a delight and oh so easy to drink.

This is one you’ll want to be on the lookout for! Cheers!


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


Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week

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2016 Hess Select Pinot Noir ($20)

This Pinot Noir from Hess Select is from California's Central Coast. Specifically, the Sarmento Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands region. From the Gablian Mountains in Monterey, these grapes experience the cool afternoon breezes from the Pacific Ocean that result in an extended ripening over a long, moderate growing season.

This 100% Pinot Noir is aged in neutral French oak for up to 12 months. Dave Guffy, Winemaker at Hess, states "A flavorful palate is highlighted by warm vanilla notes and a touch of clove all wrapped up in smooth, velvety tannins."

Dave goes on to say "This wine invites you right in with bright aromas of cherries, raspberries and subtle hints of sweet spice."

To find all these wonderful flavors in a California Pinot for around $20 is spectacular! With a slight chill on it, this wine is just as excellent on its own as it is with foods.


This Hess Select Pinot Noir is another winning value feature in Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week that, as usual, is affordable and attainable. Look for this one! Cheers!


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 Communications

Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week

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2015 Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon ($20)

This Cabernet from Hess Select is from California's North Coast. The wine is produced from Hess estate vineyards in Napa along with grapes from Lake County and Mendocino County.

Hess states that "The rolling hillsides and benchlands offer prime vineyard sites producing flavorful fruit with layers of agreeable acids and balanced tannins."  I would certainly agree.

This wine is a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petite Sirah, 4% Malbec, 2% Syrah, 2% Merlot and 2% Zinfandel. It's aged in 35% new French oak and American oak for 18 months.

The wine maker, Dave Guffy, describes this wine as having "Bright and vivid aromas of roasted vanilla, mocha and baking spices meet layers of blackberry and ripe cherry flavors."

To find all these wonderful flavors in a California North Coast Cab for around $20 is a great find!

This Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon is another winning value feature in Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week that, as usual, is affordable and attainable. Look for this one! You will enjoy it. Cheers!


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 Communications

Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week

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2016 Artezin Old Vine Zinfandel ($18)

This Zinfandel comes from California's Mendocino County that has a climate with warm days and cool evenings that provides for great growing conditions and optimal ripening. Winemaker Randle Johnson, who has been with Artezin since its inception in 2002, blends this Zinfandel with Petite Sirah and Carignan. He describes this wine as having "a concentration of juicy bright cherry, pomegranate and boysenberry aromas with flavors of raspberry and currants."

His description is right on. It starts out with big, bright fruit flavors and finishes by leaning toward being a bit jammy with the rich currant flavors. It is very smooth, has moderate tannin, and the French oak provides a hint of spice.

The Artezin wines are family farmed and sustainably grown. And at this price-point, a terrific value. Be sure to keep an eye out for this one and give it a try. It's a winner.

Artezin wines is part of The Hess Family Wine Estates portfolio that is family owned and a fifth-generation company producing excellent wines.

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 Communications