2002 Ladera Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1.5L
92 Points - Wine Enthusiast
Vineyard and Vintage Notes:
When Ladera acquired this Howell Mountain property in 2000, it was very much in keeping with the Ladera philosophy of sourcing grapes from high quality, hillside locations. The Ladera Howell Mountain vineyard is a perfect compliment to Ladera Lone Canyon vineyard. The Howell Mountain vineyard is located at an elevation of 1600 to 1800 feet, with gently rolling terrain. The soils are iron-rich, red, clay loam soils with an abundance of gravel for excellent drainage. Because of the elevation, the climate is very different from the valley floor of Napa. It tends to be above the fog line in the summer and so receives sun for a longer duration during the day. Because of the higher elevation, the temperatures are cooler in the day and warmer at night than the valley floor. The longer sun exposure and warmer nights allow Cabernet Sauvignon to ripen every year. The resulting wines are soft and elegant, with a finesse reminiscent of wines from Bordeaux.
The vineyard consists of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, planted in 1997. Cabernet Sauvignon is a combination of clones 7, 337 and 4 budded on 3309, 110R and 420A rootstocks. These blocks were trained as vertical shoot positioned vines on 5x8 spacing.
The 2002 growing season started out to be fairly normal, with only slightly cooler temperatures during the growing season. It seemed as if it would be a later than normal harvest, until Labor Day. Then the temperatures rose into the upper 90’s, and harvest began very quickly. It was a struggle to keep the grapes on the vine to wait for full maturity, and to keep them from dehydrating in the heat. Fortunately Howell Mountain is a cooler area than the floor of Napa Valley and we were able to hold off harvesting until the grapes were ripe, tasty and fully mature. The 2002 harvest at Ladera Howell Mountain started on September 18 and ended on October 18. All in all the wines from this vintage are excellent with rich, ripe character. Crop size was low, less than 2.5 ton per acre, but typical for this vineyard.
Winemaking and Tasting Notes:
The grapes were fermented for an average of 12 days with primarily native plus some commercial wine yeasts. After fermentation, some wines were pressed immediately, while others received 5 to 14 days of maceration, depending on taste. The wine was barrel aged for 22 months in new (64%) and used (36%) French oak barrels. The wine was bottled August 18, 2004. (710 cases, 750 mL; 15 cases, 1.5L; 6 bottles, 3L; 3 bottles, 6L).
The 2002 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain is an opulent wine of rich texture, extract and viscosity. It is full of crisp freshness and shows the excellent Cabernet Sauvignon fruit flavors of Howell Mountain. This wine wonderfully expresses both the vineyard and vintage characteristics. The aroma is one of toasty wood and dark fruit-- blackberry and cherry. The palate shows the terroir of Howell Mountain with its velvety, elegant tannins, in combination with rich, full flavors, characteristic of an ideal climate.
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