Throwing Down the Gauntlet
Two days ago, I made the trek up Howell Mountain Road to Anderson’s Conn Valley. Winemaker Rob Hunt was waiting on the crushpad, and we made our way into the caves where he had prepared a tasting of his “Right Bank” — a wine Robert Parker has praised as a “Cheval Blanc look-alike.” Rob noted that Parker scored the 2007 vintage 95+ points, the highest rating ever for “Right Bank.” But he was adamant that the 2015 was his best EVER. Just to prove it, he opened a bottle of the 2007 next to the 2015. While the 2007 was indeed excellent, the 2015 showed even more depth, concentration, and compelling complexity, and is undoubtedly the better wine, hands-down extraordinary. Thanks to Rob, the 2015 vintage releases from this outstanding Howell Mountain winery are its best ever. The 2015 “Right Bank” is $77 elsewhere — today, only $49.99 on Wine Access for the best “Right Bank” ever produced.
When Rob Hunt was offered the role of winemaker at Anderson’s Conn Valley, the veteran of Pine Ridge, Colgin, and Ovid got a bit of unsolicited advice — from his wife. “Whatever you do,” she told him, “don’t mess up the ‘Right Bank.’ It’s my favorite.” After tasting it ourselves, we can share that not only has Rob heeded his wife’s advice, he has unquestionably catapulted Anderson’s Conn Valley wines into the stratosphere of complexity, brilliance, and ageability.
As Parker says: “If you have not yet discovered the wines from this nearly 28-acre vineyard tucked away a few miles east of the famed Meadowood Resort, it’s time.”
Today, the ACV wines are fresher, with more purity of fruit and stunning complexity, than ever before. Maybe it was all the Italian wine Rob drank while living in Florence, Italy, or all the DRC he tasted while working for Pine Ridge (the owner stocked it by the caseload). Whatever it was that has tempered his palate, there may not be more elegant wines coming off Howell Mountain than those being made by Rob Hunt.
This 2015 “Right Bank” is a shining example that marries Howell Mountain muscle and tannin structure with Bordeaux freshness and acid-cut. The 2015 vintage, the fourth growing season in Napa’s long drought, resulted in very low yields, but the grapes that did make it into barrel boasted excellent ripeness and concentration. “We’re in a bowl here in Conn Creek,” Rob explained. “And we tend to do everything a bit later than down in the valley in St. Helena — we’re about two weeks behind for flowering, fruit-set, and veraison. The nights are cool and so are our mornings, so our grapes retain a freshness you can’t achieve on the valley floor.”
Neither Antonio Galloni of Vinous or Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate have yet weighed in on the 2015 “Right Bank,” though both have tasted. When their reviews are published, if past is prologue, we expect them to be high praise. Just be warned: We haven’t offered “Right Bank” since last January, and the Wine Access clients who count themselves as Anderson loyalists won’t wait for the reviews before they buy. Whatever the score, I can tell you from our tasting with Rob that this is the best “Right Bank” yet.