I’m not sure why I keep expecting these wines to be of the stereotypical grocery store variety, particularly given their increasingly impressive track record, but boy do they continue to surprise. Hess Select has been the Hess Collection's value tier of wines for decades, but the sourcing and winemaking have turned a corner recently. Whether that's due to the addition of Allison Rodriguez to the winemaking team or some other reason, it's a benefit to value and quality-conscious consumers. Though there's not a stinker in the mix here, smart wine shoppers will do as I have: find the two bonafide standouts in this line-up ASAP: the rosé and pinot noir.
Prices below are suggested retail, so there's a decent chance you'll find them for even less in your local market.
2019 Hess Select Pinot Gris California $12
Playful and uncomplicated, yet true to the variety, this makes an ideal house wine for porch pounding evenings in the season ahead. It would also do a fine double duty as a companion to lighter barbecue fare.
2019 Hess Select Rosé California $12
Focused and crisp with a surprisingly inviting acidity and mid-weight palate. A more serious wine than its color, packaging, and price would suggest. Fantastic and impossible to resist.
2018 Hess Select Pinot Noir Central Coast $19
This pinot noir is yet another data point in Hess' long-holding trend of delivering surprising complexity at a value price point. In addition to a translucent body that manages to deliver plenty of full throttle flavor, it has that burnt orange peel spice found in my favorite of high-end California pinots. Add some very enjoyable acidity and a sub $20 price tag, and you’ve got a real winner here.
2017 Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast $19
Plush, rich, soft-edged, and velvety, this is a rounder, less-structured vintage than the 2016. And while that makes it less serious, it also makes it more accessible. Warm cedar and vanilla/caramel wrap the ample dark fruit, and gentle oak spices linger on the finish. A real crowd-pleaser of a wine.