True wine enthusiasts (and tiny truck lovers) have super fond memories of Hess. Donald Hess is one of the true great wine pioneers in California, and for a long time, no winery could outscore or outclass the Hess Collection. Robert Parker Jr. called his wines, “Napa’s greatest bargain.”
As Parker’s Wine Advocate recently noted, “Hess Collection winery up on Mt. Veeder is profiting from a complete makeover and producing better and better wines as well as more special cuvées. This was a winery that burst on the scene in the mid-1980s with some terrific wines and then became moribund. That’s all changing now, as the recent releases strongly evidence.”
With decades of experience in California making quality Cabernet and Chardonnay, the Hess Collection has expanded their holdings of late, allowing them to make wines from Mt. Veeder, Howell Mt, and Allomi vineyard in Napa. But despite all the aforementioned new special cuvees, and top sites to make their Cabs, their most talked about Cabernet doesn’t even come from Napa.
I was recently at a tasting where the Hess Maverick was being poured. People wouldn’t shut up about it, so I went to check it out. With a sleek black label in Hess’ traditional packaging, I assumed this was a Napa Reserve that was going to run me $100/btl. What I discovered was nothing like that at all.
The Maverick Ranch series is an ode to Donald Hess and his pioneering spirit. With the same energy as the Collection’s original founder, the wines are all made in Paso Robles, one of if not California’s top rising Cabernet region. This Cabernet is silly. It’s just about as good as any I’ve had from Hess, and you could lock into about four of them for the price of one Napa Cab (that probably won’t be as good).
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