From hi-elevation estate vineyards on Mt. Veeder comes this vanishing breed of wines: a blend of old vines but not the usual Italian or Rhone varieties. Here we have Bordeaux grapes with a touch of Syrah. My favorite wine from Hess–and nowhere NEAR their most expensive. Checking in on the 11’s is always interesting, and this one is feeling very near pure drinking enjoyment–maybe even fading.
Deep maroon in the glass, a nose toasty and savory–the Malbec aspects shining through hard, whereas in young versions, the Syrah component glows. Still, all that cab is there. Pretty floral rules the roost, though it’s a wet-lily sort of patina, salty vegetal the compelling factor. Tertiary leather is kept at bay, but the whole thing is cooked down into a sultry stew of complexity. Ripe 5-spice tops the cherry and berry, briary aspects on point.
In the mouth, not as sharp as one would hope, it’s still and calm and showing glaring juxtapositions between fruit and acid. Not that either are out-of-balance, just dulled and almost awkwardly comparitive. It’s not flush with fruit: everything is kept to low-modicum, and generous vegetal briar flows throughout. Snotty, glycerin-y Malbec has truly become the star here. Tannins mellow and smooooth, rich blackberry the last vision going away–tinged by sharp acid. It’s a beautiful wine, full and distinct, but drinking at near-peak. Any further age is going to start showing glaring angles, I fear.
2011 HESS ’19 Block Mountain Cuvee’ Cab/Bec/SY Mt Veeder Napa Valley 13.5