Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
Only 1 left!
The 2006 Howell Mountain has already gone into hiding, but there is no doubting its enormous weight, richness, note of graphite, and minerality. The wine possesses enormous concentration and richness as well as lots of blue and black fruits, but I wouldn’t touch it for 7-10 years. It should keep for 30 years.
I can’t close without saying that it is unfortunate that the story of viticulturists like David Abreu, who is probably more meticulous and dedicated both to his sites and those he consults with than any other viticulturist I have met in Europe or California, combined with his love of French wines and his obsessive pursuit of world-class wines at his own sites, is a story that still hasn’t been told by enough people. Abreu, among many others, is why California has undergone a historic qualitative revolution over the last twenty years. Yet, in many elitist wine circles, it continues to be ignored despite the overwhelming evidence that many California vineyards are better managed than their European counterparts, and the winemaking and vineyard sites are potentially even grander. Heresy in some circles I know, but as always, the truth is in the bottle. In vino veritas! What a line-up of wines from superstar viticulturist David Abreu and his talented winemaking assistant, Brad Grimes! Abreu draws fruit from four sites that he owns partially or completely - the Capella Vineyard in St. Helena, his 12-acre parcel on Howell Mountain, the Madrona Ranch vineyard slightly northwest of Capella on the lower slopes of Spring Mountain, and the extraordinary Thorevilos Vineyard, which he owns with Ric Foreman. The cuvee with the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Abreu’s 12-acre vineyard on Howell Mountain. David Abreu is proud of this vineyard as it is planted in the red Aiken soils of the region. In addition to approximately 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, the blend includes tiny percentages of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. The amount of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot included in these wines appears to be rising dramatically as the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon drops as Abreu and Grimes recognize the potential for Cabernet Franc in selected Napa sites. Its inclusion gives a wine far more singularity and complexity. However, these are all remarkable wines of great richness and individuality from what I’m sure history will confirm in 50-100 years, some extraordinary grand cru-like vineyard sites. There are about 200-250 cases of each of these cuvees, and, as most readers know, about the only way you will latch on to a bottle or two is to get on the winery’s mailing list. The three vintages of Capella tend to be mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, but also 20-30% Cabernet Franc and some Petit Verdot are included in the blend. Abreu and Grimes are looking to make Capella their St.-Emilion statement for Napa Valley. As utterly profound as all Abreu’s wines tend to be, one vineyard that seems to just knock me over is the site David Abreu co-owns with Ric Foreman, Thorevilos. The percentages of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot have jumped dramatically, and, like its siblings, it is no longer entitled to be called a Cabernet Sauvignon, but rather is a Proprietary Red. - Rated 95+ points by Robert Parker