Hess Collection Panthera Chardonnay 2018
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
As fifth generation Hess family, Tim and Sabrina consider themselves stewards of the brand and the land. When Donald Hess came to California in the 1970s, he was attracted to California wine and became fascinated with Mount Veeder. Although few in Napa Valley were cultivating vines at elevation, Donald Hess believed the volcanic slopes of Mount Veeder provided the ideal combination of soils and microclimates to yield elegant wines with rich, complex flavors.
A pioneer by nature, Donald Hess was determined to defy convention and pursue winemaking at elevation, so in 1978, he established The Hess Collection Winery on the site of one of the region’s oldest wineries. He took the opportunity to marry his two creative passions in life—wine and art—and he established an art gallery within the winery as a means of sharing his private art collection. Donald Hess and his wife, Ursula, met through their shared love of art, and today, Ursula’s daughter, Sabrina, and her husband, Tim, continue the family legacy of sharing wine and art and the family’s ongoing commitment to making both accessible to all.
Tim and Sabrina have chosen to call the Napa Valley their home. Tim was raised in Southern Africa and Europe, Sabrina raised in Switzerland and London, but the Napa Valley is where they have found their true calling. They strive to impart their own influence on the winery and support state-of-the-art innovations. Together, they continue to advance The Hess Collection as one of the premier family-owned and family-led companies in Napa Valley, and they are hopeful that someday their children too will carry on the Hess family heritage.
A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, the Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river that flows through it. While there are warm pockets of the AVA, it is mostly a cool-climate growing region thanks to breezes and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in Russian River, with the best examples demonstrating a unique combination of richness and restraint. The cool weather makes Russian River an ideal AVA for sparkling wine production, utilizing the aforementioned varieties. Zinfandel also performs exceptionally well here. Within the Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. The former, farther from the ocean, is relatively warm, with a focus on red and white Bordeaux varieties. The latter is the coolest, foggiest parcel of the Russian River Valley and is responsible for outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.