2001 Ladera Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
93 Points - Wine Spectator
Vineyard and Vintage Notes:
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 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 2001 growing season was atypical for Howell Mountain in that it was much warmer than the Napa Valley floor which was covered with heavy fog many mornings. Because of the warm days and nights on Howell Mountain, the Cabernet harvest was almost a full month earlier than normal, starting on September 4 and ending on October 8. Crop size was low, less than 2.5 ton per acre, but typical for this vineyard. The 2001 vintage will always be remembered for producing excellent wines with beautiful extract.
Winemaking and Tasting Notes:
The grapes were fermented for an average of 12 days with a variety of commercial wine yeasts. After fermentation, some wines were pressed immediately, while others received up to 8 days of maceration, depending on taste. The wine was barrel aged for 26 months in new (50%) and used (50%) French oak barrels. The wine was bottled August 7, 2003. (768 cases, 750 mL; 7 cases, 1.5L; 6 bottles, 3L; 3 bottles, 6L).
The 2001 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain is a showy wine of rich texture, extract and viscosity. It 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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