- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hess Collection, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, 2002, $40

Tis the season to splurge, and a bottle of top-notch Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon can be a very special treat. Even if you’re willing to spend a fair amount, you’ll likely experience some sticker shock. Most good Napa cabs cost at least $50 these days, with more and more priced over $100. In that heady company, Hess Collection’s Mount Veeder cabernet stands out. It tastes as good as any, and while not cheap, provides a holiday splurge that won’t send you to the poorhouse.

Mount Veeder is a volcanic ridge in the southern portion of the Mayacamas Range, the mountains that divide Napa and Sonoma counties. Vineyards there produce small crops of concentrated, intensely flavored fruit. The resulting wines tend to taste deep and rich, with firm tannins and well-defined structure.

The Hess Collection has produced excellent cabernet sauvignon for many years, and its newly released 2002 bottling only adds to this impressive track record. Delicious now, with powerful dark berry fruit flavors enhanced by secondary notes that echo chocolate and coffee, this wine has the stuffing to improve with five to 10 years of bottle age.

It’s a special treat, and as odd as it sounds, at $40 quite a bargain. No matter whether purchased as a gift for someone else or an indulgence for yourself, this is one wine well worth the splurge.

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