The Howell Mountain Vineyard is located at an elevation of 1,600 to 1,800 feet, with gently rolling terrain. The soils are iron-rich, red, clay loam with an abundance of gravel which allows for excellent drainage. The climate at this vineyard is very unique. Because of the high elevation, the vineyard sits above the fog line and so receives sun for a longer duration during the day. Furthermore, the temperatures are cooler in the day and warmer at night than the valley floor. This longer sun exposure and warmer nights allow the Cabernet Sauvignon to ripen evenly and to full maturity every year.
Fruit from this blend arrived at the winery on dates ranging from October 4 - to November 3, 2005. The wine was aged for 21 months in 50% new French oak barrels with the remainder one, two and three year old French barrels. Fermentation lengths on average were 13 days with native yeasts contributing to approximately 65% of the fermentations. The wines were pressed at dryness with no extended fermentations. The wine is unfiltered and unfined. The blend is comprised of lots from 17 different vineyard blocks of which most were planted in 1997 and the remainder planted in 2001. The wine was bottled on August 6, 2007 at 7,908 6 packs, 150 1.5L, 225 375mL, 50 3L and 10 6L. pH = 3.76 Alcohol = 14.7%
The 2005 growing season started with rains in the spring and early summer, creating vigorous vine growth. The growing season was also long and cool which was perfect for developing grapes with good maturity and flavors with sugar levels coming in slightly lower than past vintages. Cooler weather, large crop sizes and lateness of the harvest had everyone anxious about getting the crop into the winery before the winter rains. Fortunately, a few late season rains didn’t affect the tough skinned Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, the long, slow ripening allowed the grapes to reach their full expression in the glass.
The 2005 Ladera Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is abundant in fragrant aromas of blackberry, vanilla, lilac and sweet oak. With a graceful and rich entry of dark cherries, blueberry and blackberry on the palate, the taste buds are awoken with hints of cocoa, mint and anise. Firm yet supple tannins carry this concentrated wine through to a well-structured and long finish.