Impenetrable ruby, staining and barely lightening at the edge–creamy, nutty chocolate turtle pouring out. So old world-y, so classic Napa Valley and yet so decadent–not that the two are mutually exclusive! Believe me there’s plenty of classic Napa Valley wines that are decadent. Red dirt, yellow-pine and madrone magnificence that is mountain vineyards starts coming out through the chocolate after copious air. Fruit not your common-core blackberry, black cherry, etc. etc., it runs way edgier: somewhat glycerin-y but a leathered pewter and oiled bronze mineral exudes–somewhere between super ripe cantaloupe and super ripe pineapple, taut brambly berry holding it all together, 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 so could have a bit of other things in it, but don’t care. This wine represents a near-perfect balance between Classic structure and complexity and modern ripeness.
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. This thing’s got fruit dripping out of every pore. It is absolutely criminal to be drinking it today at this juncture of its life. EASY 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.
Easily one of my favorite wines from Howell Mountain and I have a bit of a soft spot for that little ridge. Finding these retail can be a bit of a challenge, as it sells out early and the price keeps going up. This one came from Vintner’s Collective in downtown Napa. When you find it: buy as much as you can afford. It’s not cheap but it is by no means expensive by Napa Valley standards. Ridiculously good stuff.
2013 CLARK-CLAUDON VINEYARDS Cabernet Sauvignon ’20 Year Anniv’ Estate Napa Valley 14.2