Two Howell Mountain Sites, One Big-Shouldered Red
It’s not often that you’ll find the critics exactly aligned in appreciation, but when the reviews were all in for the 2012 Duckhorn Vineyards Howell Mountain Red, three landed on 92 points: Wine Spectator called it “deep, intense and well-structured,” Wine Enthusiast labeled it “a big-shouldered red,” and Wine & Spirits loved its “sweet black fruit,” which is balanced by “the richness of new French oak.” Culled from two super vineyards — Candlestick Ridge Vineyard, which at 2,100 feet in elevation is one of the highest on Howell Mountain. The other is the 43-acre Stout Vineyard near Randy Dunn’s property, which has provided fruit to Duckhorn since 1982. When blended together, these two sites furnish the “big-shouldered” fruit and “fine-grained tannins” the critics so admire in this wine, making for a terrifically age-worthy red blend. The last 100 cases direct from Duckhorn’s cellars — just beginning to show the integration and mellowing from 5 years in the bottle. This is an outstanding collector’s Cabernet for careful cellaring and enjoyment through to 2030. Don’t miss out.
Duckhorn, whose Howell Mountain Cabernets have helped make the area’s reputation, has had an all-star list of winemakers take their stab at Howell’s thick-skinned, deeply concentrated mountain fruit. Founding winemaker Tom Rinaldi was followed by Mark Beringer and Bill Nancarrow. Now it’s Renée Ary’s turn.
In 2012 — a vintage that was one of the most extraordinary in even Howell Mountain’s storied history, celebrated as “near perfect,” a “watershed,” “absolutely hedonistic,” — Ary had her pick of mountaintop jewels of fruit, basking in the Napa sun off two of the oldest and most revered sites on Howell Mountain. Do not miss this.