Hess Collection Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Napa Valley
Cost: $31-33
I f you say Napa Valley, wine drinkers all over the world know where you are talking about. It produces only four percent of California’s wine grapes and is one eighth the size of Bordeaux, but it is as well known as any wine district on the planet.
Napa Valley was the first American Viticultural Area (AVA) in California, designated in 1981. Within Napa 17 sub-appellations have been recognized as having distinct terrain and microclimates. That shows the diversity of conditions which produce a variety of grapes to give winemakers many options.
One of the newer sub-appellations is the Pope Valley, in the far northeastern corner of Napa, right next to Howell Mountain. Pope Valley grapes produce the Hess Collection Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 ($31-33), which is a wonderful wine.
Of course, the wine is labeled Napa Valley, because everyone knows the high quality of wines coming from Napa, but you need to watch out for these Pope Valley wines.
The Hess Allomi is a gorgeous deep garnet in the glass with powerful dark fruit aromas, principally blackberry and boysenberry. The rich fruit flavors are matched by well-integrated tannins, so everything remains smooth and well-rounded.
Layers of flavor unfold as you drink, with plenty of juicy black fruit, including black cherry and plum with notes of chocolate, vanilla and spice. We opened the bottle about 30 minutes before we started drinking, and the flavors continued to develop all through the meal.
The blend is 81 percent cabernet sauvignon, 12 percent petite sirah, three percent petit verdot, two percent malbec and two percent merlot. After fermentation the wine spends 18 months in new American oak, 27 percent of it new.
Allomi is one of Hess’ estate vineyards, named for the original Spanish land grant to which the native Patwin people lent their name: Rancho Locoallomia. The 210-acre vineyard set on rolling hills has 35 separate blocks with six different cabernet clones. That creates diversity within the wine as the winemakers select the best from each block before compiling the final blend.
When making fine wine, diversity is good in growing grapes and blending them. This allows for a more complex wine that can match a variety of tastes and pair with many different foods. It also makes the wine more interesting to drink.
Hess produces a wide array of wines in many price ranges, including a small block series that uses specific blocks from unique vineyards to craft special wines.
I also tried the Hess Collection Napa Valley Chardonnay ($21-23), which has beautiful citrus aromas and complex flavors of stone fruit and melon, mixed with vanilla from the oak. It was a wonderful chardonnay from the Su’skol vineyard in the coolest part of Napa Valley. It was great as a sipper and also a great food wine.
Winery: When Donald Hess arrived in California in the 1970s, he became interested in the wine business. Even though few people in Napa Valley were growing vines at a high elevation, he became fascinated with Mount Veeder.
In 1978 he bought his first land on Mount Veeder, and in 1982 completed the purchase of 900 acres. He set aside more than 600 acres as undeveloped land to support wildlife corridors, fish friendly farming practices and biodiversity.
In 1986 he leased the winery buildings from the Christian Brothers who had been producing wine there since the 1930s. The winery was opened to the public in 1989 after a two-year renovation of the facility. Hess also moved in his personal contemporary art collection, which occupies 13,000 square feed. Just seeing the art collection is worth the drive up Mount Veeder.
After an earthquake damaged the cellar, a new Lions Head cellar was built, equipped with small boutique tanks designed for luxury winemaking.
The winery is best known for its flagship Mount Veeder cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay wines, and single vineyard designates from estate vineyards in Napa Valley.
The Hess Collection has wineries on four continents. The company has been around since 1844 when Hess Family Estates was founded in Switzerland. The winery owns vineyards scattered throughout Napa Valley in diverse areas, from cool climate to hot and from steep slopes in the mountains to gentle slopes near the bay.
Donald was the fourth generation of the family to run the business. He retired in 2017 and turned operation of the company over to his son-in-law Timothy Persson and daughter Sabrina.
In 2008 The Hess Collection was among the first 10 wineries to receive certification as a Napa Green Winery.  Each spring a large herd of goats is released into the vineyards prior to bud break to help with weed control, minimizing the use of tractors and tilling.
The company continues to grow. This year they added the Iron Corral Vineyard, just two miles from Allomi. It is 420 acres, with 186 acres planted predominantly in cabernet sauvignon.
Goes with: We had this wine with bacon cheeseburgers made on the grill. It turned out to be a great combination. When I have wine with a cheeseburger I don’t want the wine to overpower the food or the food to make the wine disappear.
This match was a perfect balance. I used frozen Angus burgers and topped them with cheese and bacon strips to make a great burger, juicy and delicious. The nicely-balanced wine added a great depth of flavor to the burgers. We also had french fries and cut up veggies to complete the meal.
It also would pair well with rich soups and stews, steak on the grill, and hearty cheeses.
If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at dennis@bottlereport.com

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