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Posts tagged ‘Howell Mountain’

The Week in Zinfandel (7/17/17)

Welcome to the latest installment of The Week in Zinfandel. If I missed your post or story please send me a link and I will be sure to include it next week. Cheers!

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1995 Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain – Bottle Notes

The 1995 Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain was the winning bottle in the May installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was decanted for 30 minutes.

Dunn Vineyards is located east of St. Helena in the town of Angwin on Howell Mountain. The Winery was established in 1979, with the first harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. In 1981, the first release consisted of 660 cases of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Howell Mountain vineyards. In 1982, Dunn released a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dunn is one of the iconic producers of Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley. Randy Dunn, to his credit, has held steadfast in how he produces and prices his wines. The wines are exceptionally long-lived and are truly a throwback to a different era in Napa Valley. Recent favorable press from Antonio Galloni, formerly of the Wine Advocate, has put a well-deserved spotlight back on the winery.

Ruby red in color. 13% ABV. Huge nose of red fruits, leather, mint and tobacco. The wine packs a punch on the palate but maintains a sense of elegance. Flavors of cherries, currants, cassis and graphite. Medium length on the finish with warm, caressing tannins. For my tastes the wines from Dunn always seem timeless. That being said this particular wine is more approachable than other Dunn wines from the mid nineties. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 93 points.

Current vintages of Dunn Howell Mountain should cost around $85. The wine is readily available at retail and a great value at the price point.

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2000 Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain – Bottle Notes

Dunn Vineyards is located east of St. Helena in the town of Angwin on Howell Mountain. The Winery was established in 1979, with the first harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. In 1981, the first release consisted of 660 cases of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Howell Mountain vineyards. In 1982, Dunn released a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dunn is one of the iconic producers of Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley. Randy Dunn, to his credit, has held steadfast in how he produces and prices his wines. The wines are exceptionally long-lived and are truly a throwback to a different era in Napa Valley. Recent favorable press from Antonio Galloni, formerly of the Wine Advocate, has put a well-deserved spotlight back on the winery.

2000 was by all accounts a difficult vintage in the Napa Valley and with that in mind I only decanted the wine for 30 minutes.

Blood red in color with some fading at the edge of the glass. 13.6% ABV. Dried red fruits, leather and graphite on the nose. Medium body. Tight and bruising on the palate. Flavors of cherries, currants, pencil and cassis. Drying, coarse tannins on a medium length finish. The word rustic comes to mind. Dunn always seems to walk a tightrope of tanns and fruit. In this case I think the tannins may ultimately outlive the fruit. Underwhelming if you are a fan of Dunn Howell Mountain from classic years like ’91 and ’94 but not bad considering the vintage. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 90 points.

Current vintages of Dunn Howell Mountain should cost around $85. The wine is readily available at retail and a great value at the price point.

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2007 Outpost Zinfandel Howell Mountain – Bottle Notes

Outpost Wines was established in 1998 and sits on a pristine piece of land atop Howell Mountain 2200 feet above Napa Valley. Thomas Rivers-Brown has been the winemaker from the start and has gained further acclaim making highly sought after wines for Schrader, Rivers-Marie and many others. Besides Zinfandel, Outpost also produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.

Served without decanting. Deep red in color. 16.2% ABV. Raspberry liqueur, flowers and chalk on the nose. Medium body with medium acidity and a nice sense of balance. Raspberry compote, juicy blackberries and cracked black pepper on the palate. The finish is long and creamy with mellowing tannins. Drink over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 93 points.

Outpost wines are only available via the mailing list and sell out quickly. Highly recommended.

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2005 Outpost Petite Sirah Howell Mountain – Bottle Notes

Outpost Wines was established in 1998 and sits on a pristine piece of land atop Howell Mountain 2200 feet above Napa Valley. Thomas Rivers-Brown has been the winemaker from the start and has gained further acclaim making highly sought after wines for Schrader, Rivers-Marie and many others. Besides Petite Sirah, Outpost also produces Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.

Pitch black in color. 14.6% ABV. Concentrated blue fruits, violets and wet pavement on the nose. Big and brawny with medium acidity. Blueberry syrup, cocoa powder and bacon fat on the palate. Complex wine with layers upon layers of flavors. This wine coats the palate but the tannins are manageable. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Outpost wines are only available via the mailing list and sell out quickly. Highly recommended.

I blogged about Petite Sirah previously in Petite Sirah: California’s Most Age Worthy Varietal?

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2008 Black Sears Zinfandel

Zinfandel of the Month is a new feature on Zinfandel Chronicles. For background please see the first installment published last October. Keep in mind that although the Zinfandel of the Month might be an older bottle, the current vintage will be one you can find at retail or via the mailing list.

The July Zinfandel of the Month is the 2008 Black Sears.

In 1979, Joyce Black and Jerre Sears purchased a one-of-a-kind property at the top of Howell Mountain. In 1997, Joyce and Jerre began producing very small quantities of estate-bottled Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel for their new Black Sears label, a few hundred cases per vintage. For twelve years, winemaker Ted Lemon called the Black Sears winery home, producing both the Black Sears wines and his own Littorai Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But in 2007 Ted fulfilled a lifelong dream and built his own winery in Sebastopol.

Soon thereafter, Joyce and Jerre learned that their friends and neighbors down Summit Lake Drive at Outpost needed some additional capacity. Winemaker Thomas Brown was taking on more projects, and Outpost’s facility was running out of room for them all. Moreover, Thomas needed open-top tanks so he could make Pinot and Chardonnay for his own Rivers Marie label. Thomas and cellar-master Andrew Jones now inhabit the Black Sears winery, where they craft wines for their own label, Rivers Marie, Schrader and others.

The 37 year old vines for the 2008 Zinfandel are on an east-facing plot at the absolute top of Howell Mountain. Deep red in color. 15.5% ABV. Black fruits, figs and Howell Mountain pepper on the nose. Rich, jammy and spicy with a hint of acidity. Great flavors of white pepper, blackberries, cherry cordial and plums. There is no shortage of tannins on an exceptional finish. Drink over the next 1-3 years. Super Zinfandel.

My rating: 93 points

The Black Sears Zinfandel is priced around $50 and is only available via the mailing list. The 2012 version will be released in the Spring of 2015.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2005 Turley Rattlesnake Ridge

Zinfandel of the Month is a new feature on Zinfandel Chronicles. For a little background please see the first installment published three months ago. Keep in mind that although the Zinfandel of the Month might be an older bottle, the current vintage will be one you can find at retail or via the mailing list.

The January Zinfandel of the Month is the 2005 Turley Rattlesnake Ridge.

Turley Wine Cellars was founded in 1993 by Larry Turley and specializes in small lots of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah from some of California’s most historic and treasured vineyards.

Rattlesnake Ridge is an estate-owned and certified organic vineyard. Located at the top of Howell Mountain at about 2600 feet, the vines see more sun here then they would on the valley floor; however, it is much colder due to the elevation, and can even snow in the winter. All combined, these factors make for a truly unique wine: bold, strong tannins and an acid backbone that can only come from Howell Mountain.

Rusty in color. 15.1% ABV. Red fruits, pepper and anise on the nose. Medium body with strong acidity. Boysenberry, plum, raspberry compote, licorice and pepper on the palate. This has Howell Mountain written all over it. Light tannins. Drink soon.

My rating: 92 points.

With all due respect to Carlisle and Bedrock, Turley is unequivocally the best Zinfandel producer in California. Exceptional vineyards and no detail spared in the winemaking process. The wines are simply better than ever.

The wait to get on the mailing list at Turley is relatively short. Take advantage of that.

In other news Turley recently opened a Tasting Room in Amador at the location of the former Karly Winery. Without question it’s worth a visit if you are in the area.

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Zinfandel of the Month – 2006 Outpost Zinfandel

Zinfandel of the Month is a new feature on Zinfandel Chronicles. For a little background please see the first installment published two months ago. Keep in mind that although the Zinfandel of the Month might be an older bottle, the current vintage will be one you can find at retail or via the mailing list.

The December Zinfandel of the Month is the 2006 Outpost.

Outpost was established in 1998 and sits on a pristine piece of land atop Howell Mountain 2200 feet above Napa Valley. Thomas Rivers-Brown has been the winemaker from the start and has gained further acclaim making highly sought after wines for Schrader, Rivers-Marie and many others. Besides Zinfandel, Outpost also produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.

The fruit for the Howell Mountain Zinfandel is a combination old vine and young vine planted in ’78 and ’00 respectively. Crimson in color. 16.2% ABV. Concentrated aromas of dark fruits, white pepper and molasses. Big and structured. Textbook Howell Mountain profile. Medium body. Raspberry, plum, licorice and boysenberry on the palate. Dusty tannins on the incredibly long, sweet finish. Drink over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Outpost wines are only available via the mailing list and sell out quickly. Highly recommended.

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2004 Turley Howell Mountain Zinfandel Rattlesnake Ridge – Bottle Notes

Turley Wine Cellars was founded in 1993 by Larry Turley and specializes in small lots of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah from some of California’s most historic and treasured vineyards.

Rattlesnake Ridge is located on Howell Mountain adjacent to the well known Black Sears Vineyard. The vineyard has volcanic soils with considerable amounts of iron and white ash.

Crimson in color with browning on the edges. 16% ABV. Sweet port-like aromas of prunes and brown sugar. Cherries, plums, rhubarb and licorice on the palate. The wine almost seems slightly maderized. I’ve had better luck with other 2004’s from Turley, so this is somewhat disappointing. Drink now.

My rating: 87 points.

Turley wines are available via the mailing list and periodically at retail. Along with other wineries like Carlisle and Bedrock, Turley is at the forefront of the California Zinfandel revolution. This winery is firing on all cylinders and quality has never been better. Highly recommended.

In other news Turley recently opened a Tasting Room in Amador at the location of the former Karly Winery. Without question it’s worth a visit if you are in the area.

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2009 Black Sears Zinfandel – Bottle Notes

In 1979, Joyce Black and Jerre Sears purchased a one-of-a-kind property at the top of Howell Mountain. In 1997, Joyce and Jerre began producing very small quantities of estate-bottled Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel for their new Black Sears label, a few hundred cases per vintage. For twelve years, winemaker Ted Lemon called the Black Sears winery home, producing both the Black Sears wines and his own Littorai Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But in 2007 Ted fulfilled a lifelong dream and built his own winery in Sebastopol.

Soon thereafter, Joyce and Jerre learned that their friends and neighbors down Summit Lake Drive at Outpost needed some additional capacity. Winemaker Thomas Brown was taking on more projects, and Outpost’s facility was running out of room for them all. Moreover, Thomas needed open-top tanks so he could make Pinot and Chardonnay for his own Rivers Marie label. Thomas and cellar-master Andrew Jones now inhabit the Black Sears winery, where they craft wines for their own label, Rivers Marie, Schrader and others.

The 37 year old vines for the 2009 Zinfandel are on an east-facing plot at the absolute top of Howell Mountain. 15.6% ABV. The wine is cherry red in color. Lighter in color than I would have expected for a four year old Zinfandel. Red fruits and white pepper on the nose. Cherries, peppercorns, figs and bramble fruits on the palate. Rich and sweet but not jammy. Modest tannins. The wines from this vineyard have a track record of aging extremely well but I would be inclined to drink this over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 93 points.

The fact that this bottle was shared with my brother and his wife on a warm Spring night in Phoenix made it all the more better!

The Black Sears Zinfandel is priced around $50 and is only available via the mailing list. The 2011 version will be released in the Spring of 2014.

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