Deep ruby color; cherry, blackberry, oak on the nose; cherry, plum, dark fruits, oak and vanilla, leather, earth on the palate.
Dry; seriously bold with moderate tannins and balancing acidity. Smooth while rich and bold, especially after decanting. Decanting strongly recommended. Definitely made in Bordeaux style. Medium body.
Owner and maker Philippe Langner was born in El Salvador to a German father and French mother, then grew up in Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo). He earned dual masters degrees in agronomy and agricultural economics at UC Davis.
“Hesperian” comes from Greek mythology. Hesperides were nymphs who tended the queen-god Hera’s westernmost garden that produced golden apples, including the apple which Eris, the goddess of discord, presented as a wedding gift. That apple became the origin of the 10-year Trojan War. Today, “Hesperian” means anyone living in the West. It also references Venus, the western evening star.
Langner has another take on Hesperian. He told the Napa Valley Register in December 2019: “Hesperian is not a place, it’s an idea. It’s about crafting something beautiful, complex and individual. Over time my ideas about winemaking have changed. Whereas I once looked to power and intensity, I now look for sensitivity, precision and delicacy as a way to best express our vineyards’ particular personalities.”
This quote is from five years ago, when power and intensity still were Langner’s goals. This comes from his powerfully intense cab phase. Some of his change in approach today may be influenced by the loss of his home in the 2017 Napa fires. He told the Valley Register: “I lost nearly everything…. I even lost my winemaking notes that I had kept on every wine I’d ever tasted—poof, gone.” In any event, this expresses Napa cab power capabilities. It will be interesting to taste future Hesperian efforts.
Hesperian Anatomy No. 1 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2016 flaunts focus and finesse with dark fruits. Smoothness and power—nice trick. Very Bordeaux-style, although neither website nor label break down the blend. Hesperian only says it cellared and bottled this effort, which likely makes this a négotiant effort. Nothing wrong with that. This is well-made, solid red wine. Pair with rich red meats; flank steak and other marinated lean beef; fajitas; barbecue; gourmet burgers; lamb; wild game—venison; pizza; mature hard cheese. $27-35