Lions Head Collection Finds Its Place in Napa Valley | Wine Enthusiast
Wine bottle illustration Displaying 0 results for
Suggested Searches
Articles & Content

Lions Head Collection Finds Its Place in Napa Valley

An innovative wine collection announces a new tasting experience
and its inaugural reserve red blend – inspired by Greek myth.

For ten years, second-generation vintners Tim and Sabrina Persson of Lions Head Collection—the maker of Lion Tamer Napa Valley and Panthera Sonoma Valley—have quietly been making high-scoring wines from their cellar on Mount Veeder. But an evolution is coming: In June, Lions Head Collection will release the inaugural vintage of Lion Tamer Chimera Reserve Red Blend. It will also launch its first-ever portfolio tasting for guests at Hess Persson Estates.

“We decided it was time to throw caution to the wind,” says Tim. When he and Sabrina first started Lions Head Collection, their dream was to make wine by and for the next generation—embracing change and an outsider’s perspective, while at the same time relying on the wine wisdom passed down to them. “Our hope is that our fans will be excited, our guests will be delighted, and we’ll be able to share more about where our perspective comes from.”

Image Courtesy of Kimberly Serveau (left) and Seamless Productions (right). From a destructive, tank-crushing earthquake in 2014 to releasing an inaugural reserve red blend and a new tasting experience, Tim and Sabrina Persson (pictured left) have held onto their unshakeable dream for Lions Head Collection.

A Mountaintop Tasting

Seated above the Lions Head Cellar on Mount Veeder, guests at Hess Persson Estates will finally have the chance to try each of the Lion Tamer and Panthera wines, including a 95-point Pinot Noir made with grapes sourced from the Sonoma Coast. The tasting will also feature unique culinary pairings inspired by Tim’s childhood spent in the African nation of Eswatini.

“I always try to remember that guests are traveling up a mountain to be here,” Tim says. “Of course, we’re offering wines which we haven’t before. But we want to specifically focus on the cultural value of preserving something essential. It would be bog standard to offer a traditional charcuterie plate. Instead, we’re adding biltong—one of my favorite snacks growing up—and other unique pairings.”

Also on the tasting menu will be a 95-point Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the newest addition to the Lions Head Collection, Lion Tamer Chimera Reserve Red Blend.

Image Courtesy of Seamless Productions. Senior Winemaker Stephanie Pope tests barrel samples of small-lot reserve wines in the historic barrel chai of Hess Persson Estates.

“I wanted to create something powerful, something bigger than we’d achieved with the other Lion Tamer wines,” shares Stephanie Pope, Senior Winemaker for Hess Persson Estates. Keeping with the meaning behind the name Lion Tamer—Stephanie’s nickname for Malbec—Chimera is more than 50% Malbec.

“Chimera isn’t our only Malbec-centric Red Blend,” Stephanie points out. Lion Tamer Red Blend, the first wine made by the Lions Head Collection, is 47% Malbec. “What makes Chimera distinct is that it grabs you and takes you for a ride. The Malbec we grow allows Chimera to stay just soft enough to enjoy. But her strength comes from the Petite Sirah and Syrah in the blend—stellar, complex varietals that are almost never the star of the show.”

Image Courtesy of Seamless Productions. The inspiration for Chimera Reserve Red Blend came from the research artist Michael McDermott did for the Lion Tamer label.

Finding Inspiration in Art

 The idea for Chimera Reserve Red Blend came from the Lion Tamer label itself. The artwork, created by Napa-based artist Michael McDermott, features a shimmering male lion prowling across the bottle. While developing the label, McDermott was inspired by ancient art of The Byzantine Empire, which once included Greece.

“In Greek mythology, the chimera was this dazzling creature; an incredible blend of magical, mythical beasts,” explains Tim. “So, we asked ourselves, ‘Why not do that with wine?’ We wanted to give Stephanie [Pope] the freedom to play with the most expressive varietals in Napa Valley. Take the guardrails off and have fun.”

Lion Tamer Chimera Reserve Red Blend is set to be released to the Hess Persson Estates Collectors Club this June. Its public release is currently set for October, though it will remain exclusively available directly from the winery.

Experience Lions Head Collection

The entire Lions Head Collection and single varietals of the Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Malbec highlighted in Chimera’s blend can be found online at the Hess Persson Estates wine shop.

To visit the Lions Head Cellar on Mount Veeder and experience the collection in-person, bookings can be made online or through customer service.

You can also read more about the vision behind Lion Tamer in this 2022 article on our website, from Tim and Sabrina.