Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Select ‘Hess Select’ For Variety and Value by Philip S. Kampe

When a neighbor gives you $60 to buy American wines, what do you do.

First, you must understand their palate. Secondly, you must learn about their favorite grape varieties. And thirdly, you must learn what wine regions of the world they prefer. Of course, there are so many more questions to ask, but, with the Coronavirus and lack of supplies at retail shops, the choices will be less. I thought three questions were enough, on this occasion.

My neighbor is in his 90’s and does not have a wine lovers palate. So, with his instructions for U.S. wines and whatever you think I would like, the task became quite easy.

In the past, we did sample Hess Select wines at a local wine tasting event. He liked everything he sampled and bought some bottles afterwards. That was twelve years ago, when he was still in his 70’s. At 90, his memory is not as sharp as it was years ago.

In essence, my task May be easier if I could recreate the wine tasting of years ago.

On Saturday afternoon, I went to my local wine shop, the best one in the Berkshires, and was surprised and a bit alarmed that they were conducting their weekly wine and cheese tastings. Guess the Coronavirus news hasn’t reached western Massachusetts, yet?

Anyway, I wanted to get in and out quickly.
With $60 in hand, I picked up four bottles of wine for my neighbor. All four were Hess Select. With another $60, this time, my money, I bought the same four bottles. ($61.95 total plus no sales tax on alcohol in Massachusetts)

This is what I bought:
Hess Select Rose 2019 ($13)
Hess Select Pinot Gris 2019 ($13)
Hess Select Pinot Noir 2018 ($18)
Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 ($18)

I delivered the wines. My neighbor was happy and I was curious to sample the wines on my own.
The 2019 Rose was 100% Pinot Noir. It was a really vibrant pink. The color lured you in. The first thing I noticed was its crisp, bright acidity that lit up the raspberry, red cherry and stone fruit balanced layers that made up this wine.

Contrast the Rose, made from Pinot Noir to the 2018 Pinot Noir from Hess Select. Its an impossible task. The Pinot Noir was very earthy, dry and spicy. Pinots are hard to master, as illustrated in the movie, ‘Sideways.’ Hess Select did a masterful job with this 2018.

The Hess Select Pinot Gris 2019 was full of pineapple, orange, lemon peel, peach, green apple and pear. The light mineral finish supported its freshness and dryness. Its a fair value for its price.

Finally, I saved the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon for my final bottle to sample. If you like oak, vanilla, tobacco, blackberry, dark plum, cherry, raspberry and spice, then this is your wine. The 2019 is a great value. Its velvety texture , firm tannins and deep flavors are worth the price of admission.

Task completed.

Philip S. Kampe

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