92 Points - Wine & Spirits
The Howell Mountain Vineyard is located at an elevation of 1,600 to 1,800 feet, with gently rolling terrain. The volcanic 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 receiving 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 Howell Mountain arrived at the winery on dates ranging from September 5 - to October 28, 2008. The wine was aged for 21 months in 47% new French oak barrels with the remainder one, two, and three year old French barrels. Fermentation lengths on average were 15 days with native yeasts contributing to over 3/4 of the fermentations. The wines were pressed at or before dryness with no extended macerations. The wine is unfiltered and unfined. The blend is comprised of lots from 19 different vineyard blocks of which most were planted in 1997. The wine was bottled on August 10, 2010.
The 2008 growing season was somewhat unremarkable. We did have significant frost events early in the spring but it had no effect on any of our cabernet. Spring rainfall amounts were lower than normal which tended to intensify color and flavor. The summer and harvest were mild, which made for even ripening. This allowed us to stretch out the harvest and maintain wonderful fruit quality.
The 2008 Ladera Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon has its usual depth of color, aroma and flavors. The nose on this wine is pure mountain spice yet fruity with rich blackberry and a hint of cocoa to finish. The entry is silky and elegant with bold flavors of dark cherries, blueberry, cocoa, and spiced plum. The palate is layered with well structured tannins which lead to a long and complex finish of dark currant.