There is something so special about mountainside fruit in Napa Valley. With both Mount Veeder and Howell Mountain boasting some famous vineyards & producers, and a very different flavor profile emerging from both of these unique areas, they are both small AVAs that hold a special place in my heart.
Napa Valley has been making Cabernet Sauvignon for over 100 years. Napa can be, and generally is, synonymous with New World Cabernet. But, for some people, the stereotypical big, fruity, over powering valley floor fruit can be too much. Now of course, there are always expectations to this rule (Titus are you listening?), but in my personal and professional opinion, there is a lot to be gained by looking up.
Why? In the case of Howell Mountain, the rolling hills and steep slopes have created several micro climates. Each small clearing is above the fog. When the white stuff rolls off of the ocean, and my house is socked in the pea soup, the weather on Howell Mountain is sunny, but cool. Sitting on this inversion layer, the weather flip flops, and evenings are warmer than the days, which help to maintain the heat spikes that can be more extreme down the hill.
Located on the eastern side of the Napa valley, and north of Atlas Peak, Howell Moutain is roughly parallel but north of Chiles Valley and east of Srping Mountain, and St. Helena.
Rocky, dry soils on the mountain are well drained, and the cooler temperatures and later bud break lead to warm summer nights. All of these factors help to create balance between acidity and sweetness, which means, complexity and richness in your glass. Yum!
In the Cornerstone Cellars, the 2009 Howell Mountain Cabernet really shows these elements. Farmed organically, the Ink Grade vineyard is on the east side of Howell Mountain at 1800 feet. Producing smaller berries with an intensity of flavor, a touch of Oak Knoll Cab and Carneros Merlot are blended in. I adore this wine, and found it deep, and earthy with beautiful blue black notes of blackberry and blueberry, with cracked black pepper and dutch cocoa. The word that came to mind immediately was unctuous.
At $80 it’s a splurge, but well worth it for wine lovers and a special occasion.
This wine was provided by the winery for consideration, and while all opinions are my own, seriously, this is the good sh&*!