Howell Mountain belongs to the volcanic mountain range that flanks Napa Valley on its east side. This wine captures the rich, powerful flavors of Howell Mountain, with complexity from a selection of Cabernet Sauvignon clones. Matches boldly flavored foods, like strip loin steak with wild mushrooms and roasted fingerling potatoes. The 2013 vintage, even more outstanding than the 2012, gave this wine generous fruit character with complex nuances.
Appellation: Howell Mountain
Barrel Aging: 21 Months, 100% French Oak (50% New)
Varietal Composition: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Production: 349 cases
Capturing the bold personality of a vineyard high up on the Howell Mountain plateau, this very limited bottling of 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is rich and powerful, revealing deep, highly extracted blackberry, cassis and plum character. Its saturated color and complex nuances of baking chocolate, earthy forest-loam, dried rose petal, bay laurel, and espresso reveal its sourcing of vines rooted in iron-laden, red volcanic loam soil. The muscular tannins are dynamic and chewy, and amply support the expansive flavors through the persistent finish.
We sourced all the grapes from a small block of Cabernet Sauvignon, planted to several different clones, that was planted in 1994 on Howell Mountain. Here, at 1700-feet in elevation, the vines begin spring bud-break later because of cooler temperatures, but the grapes have longer hours of solar radiation—being above the fog-line—for ripening. Because the vines are never shaded due to the north-south row direction and slope of the land, a two-wire, cane-pruned trellis system is used to give the clusters a leaf canopy for dappled light and protection from sunburn.
The 2013 vintage surpassed even the highly touted 2012 vintage in grape quality. A winter with very low rainfall was followed by a dry, warm spring and summer. These factors resulted in balanced vine canopies, good fruit set and small, concentrated grapes. Perfect weather throughout harvest fostered intense, beautifully balanced and expressive wines.
The hand-harvested grapes were lightly crushed into stainless steel tanks, and then the must was cold soaked for gentle extraction before fermentation began. To soften tannins, we allowed the wine to ferment slightly warmer (90 degrees F.) than usual and to complete fermentation in French oak barrels. Four rackings naturally clarified the wine and it was bottled without fining.