House Lannsiter, one of the Great Houses of Westeros, was one of the richest and most powerful families in the Seven Kingdoms. It sat high above on Casterly Rock that overlooked Sunset Sea. The Lannisters home was the Red Keep in King’s Landing where their flag, consisting of a golden lion on a crimson background flew high. And after eight years of ruling through lies, deceit and manipulation, the House has fallen, literally collapsed in debris thanks to the powerful dragon wielded by Daenerys Targaryen.
Game of Thrones guided us through a world where noble houses were fighting a civil war to determine who will be king and a supernatural presence is determined to destroy an entire region. We find ourselves in a world where a teenage female is one of the most fierce leaders and becomes the Queen of Dragons. A world where, if you can’t be productive in society, you are sent to the Wall to be a member of the Night’s Watch and no matter who you are, someone is devising a plan to kill you in order to move up the social ladder. We were part of a battle for all humanity against death itself and thanks to a teenage girl who knows the many faces of death, we survive. Although this world may seem a bit implausible, there is the reality of wine and how it is an integral part of society.
Now that Game of Thrones is over, we can all once again resume our lives; and our lives involve wine. However, if you are missing your weekly Lion fix, you need to look no further. This House of Lion, has been around longer than the Lannisters and is still standing strong.
The lion has been found on the wine labels of the Hess Family Wines for nine generations. It is the symbol of power, strength and balance; a perfect metaphor for wine. In 1978, Donald Hess, an entrepreneur came to Mount Veeder and purchased vineyards that would become an icon. On the site was a stone winery, originally built in 1903 by Colonel Theodore Gier. Ten years later, the winery doors were opened to the public. After sampling the wines, you are free to explore Donald Hess’ private contemporary art collection, providing an experience for both the oenophile and the art dilettante alike. (Hommage is one of the first art pieces that greet you upon arriving, and happens to be one of my favorites. It is a tribute to Maler’s uncle, an Argentinean writer, who was assassinated for the honesty of his political essays.)
As with all dynasties, the torch must be passed down to the next generation. Donald Hess retired in 2011 and handed the reigns over to his son in law Timothy Persson. Together, Tim and his wife, Sabrina, are the fifth generation to have continued to lead the Hess Collection and expand upon its brand.
2016 Panthera RRV Chardonnay (SRP: $45)
Panthera is 100% Chardonnay. The fruit has been selected from vineyards that express their terroirs to the fullest. “The word Panthera is believed to be of East Asian origin, meaning ‘the yellowish animal’ or golden yellow.” The wine, which is in its inaugural vintage, pours a lovely medium gold in color and screams pear and apricot on the nose. If you can actually bring yourself to stop sniffing the wine and take a sip, you are rewarded with a well balanced oak influence followed by a delicious caramel apple. The finish lingers on your tongue for a substantial time and leaves you with just a hint of baking spice.
2016 Lion Tamer Red Blend (SRP: $45)
Hess affectionately calls this wine “Tamer” because blending Lion Tamer is both challenging and rewarding especially when Malbec is the core.
Consisting of 40% Malbec, 27% Zinfandel 21% Petite Sirah, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Mourvèdre, 1% Petite Verdot and 1% Merlot, this blend has a lot to offer. Aged in 40% new French oak barrels for 22 months, the complexity of this wine inspires the palate rather than taming it. It pours a enticing deep purple in color. On the nose, jammy blackberry with a wonderful floral essence of violets. Adding to the aromatic structure, black currant and spice begin to show their presence after a few swirls. On the palate, earth and herbs tingle your taste buds. The tannins are tamed just enough to provide structure and allow for the introduction of plum, blackberry and cherry before finishing off in with an refined medium (+) finish.
Hess Collection has always prided itself on elevating the wine experience. Tim and Sabrina have added to the portfolio with these non-Hess branded wines, known as the Lion Head Collection. Find out more about these wines as well as the entire Hess Collection on their website.
Disclosure: The wines were provided as media samples. No other compensation was involved, and all opinions expressed my own.
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