Nutty creamy chocolate turtle pouring out. I think it’s time for a decant. So old world-y, so classic Napa Valley and yet so classically decadent–not that the two are mutually exclusive! Believe me there’s plenty of classic Napa Valley wines that are decadent but these days it seems like they come in one of two categories: either of the decadent bomb-kind or the acid-ridden low-alcohol versions. Impenetrable ruby, staining and barely lightening at the edge. That red dirt yellow pine magnificence that is mountain vineyards in the Napa Valley start coming out through the chocolate after copious air. Fruit not your common-core blackberry, black cherry, etc. etc. Oh no it’s way more glycerin-y and oiled bronze decadence in the sun somewhere between super ripe cantaloupe and super ripe pineapple, both obviously never getting pruney ripe, more of a fruit leather ripe, tinged in acid and gobs of St. Germain and Disaronno.
I first discovered this little Howell Mountain gem from Tom Pelter at the Calistoga Wine Stop. Yes it’s labeled Napa Valley and I don’t know the exact geography of their vineyard but all the rumors and all the references I’ve seen and heard point to a fairly firm Howell Mt. standing.
In the mouth, an initial bright cherry is pitched violently into teeth shattering acid and yes even tannin before the middle. This one does not mess around. It doesn’t woo you into submission, it just goes for it straight from the beginning and yet it’s not something that I would call overly weighted on structure and lacking in depth and fruit. Oh no this thing’s got fruit dripping out of every madrone-shaded bear-cave on the hill. It is absolutely criminal to be drinking this wine today at this juncture in its life. This thing has literally 20 years to go. Finish so beautiful, so outrageously tannic and yet manageable, with all the dark dense berry that just doesn’t let go, anywhere. This thing can’t be horribly ripe. I’m going to guess it right at 14. I don’t think it’s much over if any.
Easily one of my favorite wines from Howell Mountain and if you know me I have the added burden of quite a few favorites from Howell Mountain and a very soft psychological spot in my heart also for that little ridge. I found this one at Vintner’s Collective in Napa where it is being poured now. Quite step up from the little train car in Calistoga but only in terms of possible exposure of the brand–definitely not in terms of rising status of the consumer. Call them and buy as much of this as you can afford. It’s not cheap but it is by no means expensive by Napa valley standards. You’re welcome.
2013 CLARK-CLAUDON VINEYARDS Cabernet Sauvignon ’20 Year Anniv’ Estate Napa Valley 14.2