2000 Ladera Vineyards, Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 6L
Vineyard and Vintage
When Ladera acquired this Howell Mountain property in 2000, it was very much in keeping with the philosophy of sourcing grapes from high quality, hillside locations. Ladera Howell Mountain vineyard is a perfect compliment to Ladera Lone Canyon Ranch. 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 the finesse reminiscent of wines from Bordeaux.
The vineyard consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc which were all planted in 1997. Cabernet Sauvignon is a combination of clones 7, 337 and 4 budded on 3309, 110R and 420A rootstocks. The Merlot clones are 181 and a selection from a Pine Ridge vineyard on 5C rootstock. Clones 312 and 341 on 420A and 5C were the planting materials chosen for the Cabernet Franc. All of these blocks were trained as vertical shoot positioned vines on 5x8 spacing.
The Cabernet harvest started on Howell Mountain on October 3rd and the last grapes were picked on October 20th. Cool summer temperatures contributed to a late start but the typical burst of heat in late September propelled the harvest along with an early to normal end date. Crop size was low, less than 2.5 ton per acre, but typical for that vineyard. Early rain is always a threat on Howell Mountain, but Ladera had no rain until the very last day of harvest.
Winemaking and Tasting Notes
The grapes were fermented for an average of 9 days with a variety of commercial wine yeasts. After fermentation, some wines were pressed immediately, while others received up to 22 days of maceration, depending on taste. The wine was barrel aged for 22 months in new (54%) and 1 to 3 year old (46%) French oak barrels. The wine was bottled August 8, 2002. (814 cases, 750 mL; 4 cases, 1.5L; 6 bottles, 3L; 3 bottle, 6L).
The 2000 vintage is the inaugural release for the Ladera Howell Mountain. It wonderfully expresses both the vineyard and vintage characteristics. The fruity aroma of raspberries and cherries complexes with the richer tones of licorice and cassis. The palate shows the terroir of Howell Mountain with its softness and elegant tannins, in combination with rich, full flavors.