Tasting Report: Howell Mountain Wineries 2009

How’s this for a niche event: Only wineries from Howell Mountain, a small part of Napa Valley which comprises about two dozen winemakers. It’s one of the few wine events where I actually got to sample a wine from every producer in attendance.

Most Howell Mountain producers focus on Cabernet Sauvignon, but a smattering of Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, and other varietals were on hand for tasting. Quality: All over the place, with some big hitters (Duckhorn)  turning out rocky bottlings, and a few smaller and newer wineries (Howell at the Moon, Tor Kenward, Dunn, and others) showing up with amazing wines. Love Cimarossa’s fruity Riva Di Ponente Cab, Lamborn’s smoky, zinfandel-like Cab, and Pina’s always-impressive Buckeye Vineyard Cabernet. My arguable favorite of the event: Neal Family’s Estate Cabernet, a perfectly balanced wine rich with depth.

2005 turned out to have the most impressive wines, pound for pound. Keep an eye out for this year as these Cabernets begin to appear more and more on wine lists!

Complete Report – Howell Mountain Wineries 2009

2006 Arkenstone Vineyards Obsidian / B
2005 Atlas Peak Howell Mountain Cabernet / C+
2005 Blue Hall Vineyard Camiana Cabernet Sauvignon / B+
2006 CADE Cabernet Sauvignon / A-
2006 Cakebread Dancing Bear Ranch Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / A-
2005 Cimarossa Ravi Di Ponente Vineyard Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / A-
2005 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / B+
1999 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / B
2006 D-Cubed Howell Mountain Zinfandel / B-
2006 Diamond Terrace Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / B+
2004 Duckhorn Vineyards Howell Mountain Red Wine / B-
2001 Duckhorn Vineyards Howell Mountain Napa Valley Merlot / C+
2004 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet / A-
1998 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet / A-
2005 Howell at the Moon Howell Mountain Cabernet / A-
2006 Howell at the Moon Howell Mountain Cabernet / A-
2004 La Jota 23rd Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon / A-
2004 La Jota Howell Mountain Selection Cabernet Sauvignon / B+
2004 La Jota Cabernet Franc / A-
2005 Ladera Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / A-
2005 Lamborn Family Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / A-
2005 Neal Family Vineyards Howell Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon / A
2005 Notre Vin Cabernet Sauvignon / B
2007 Outpost Howell Mountain Zinfandel / A-
2006 Outpost Outpost Howell Mountain True Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon / A-
2007 Outpost Grenache / B
2006 Pina Cellars Howell Mountain Buckeye Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon / A
2006 Red Cap Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet / A-
2006 Retro Cellars Retro Cellars Old Vine Howell Mountain Petite Sirah / A-
2006 Robert Craig Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / A-
2007 Robert Craig Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / A-
2005 Roberts + Rogers Cabernet Sauvignon / A-
2005 SPENCE Reserve Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / A
2006 SPENCE Reserve Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / B+
2006 Summit Lake Emily Kestrel Howell Mountain Cabernet / A-
2005 Tor Kenward Howell Mountain Cimarossa Cabernet Sauvignon / A
2006 Tor Kenward Howell Mountain Cimarossa Cabernet Sauvignon / A
2006 W.H. Smith Wines Howell Mountain Bronze Label / C
2006 W.H. Smith Wines Howell Mountain Cabernet / B+
2004 W.S. Keyes Howell Mountain Merlot / A-
2006 White Cottage Ranch  Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / B
2005 White Cottage Ranch  Cabernet Franc Howell Mountain / A-

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