Howell Ghost

Another 2018 *mountain* Napa cab, this one from pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum: a no-name producer, most likely bulk juice, and advertized at double the price of last night’s winner. Dark ruddy ruby in the glass, opaque right out to the rim–and quite glass-staining. No nose. And I must warn the uninitiated: that is not necessarily a bad thing in a stupid-young cab. I actually look favorably on a shy coaxing of aroma over ridiculous over-whelming blasts straight off the pour. Decanted generously. No nose. A flaccid round, ripe berry is literally the ONLY thing presented–and even THAT is not strong. No nose. I’ll give it an hour or so, but there’s no nose. OMG do I finally have the covid???

Still shy in bouquet: a wisp of dark cherry with a little mineral rash all that appears. I’m STILL OK with this! Tasting it reveals more inexplicable boring-ness. Gritty and bracing on entry, simple green tannin apparent from attack, bell pepper, sage-rub and bitter stiff cow-hide masking very definite sweet, ripe raspberry and cherry tinged with prune. The harshness of injected acid and un-resolved tannin works hard to placate the worn nature of the fruit, but the resulting controversy is a miasma of awkward juxtapositions. On one had–giving it the benefit of the doubt–it does feel a bit *barrel-sample* in composition, and I will REITERATE: this whole vibe is FARRRRR preferred over slutty, in-your-face disgustingly-facilitated fruit concentration and dime-store complexity of texture and nose gained from oak, saignee, maceration and manipulation.

It would be fun to stash a few of these away just to *see* if a few years could settle this thin, fake imbalance down into something I could call “Howell Mountain Cab”. It has its points, just: they poke out at strange angles across the palate. The finish is eviscerating heat and dry sandpaper, but there’s just enough chubby blackened cherry back in there to give hope.

2018 OLIVIA EDMUND Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mt. Napa Valley 15.5

No web site that works.

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