2011 Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain (chipped wax) Cabernet Sauvigon Napa Valley

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  • Top Napa Valley Producer
  • "Terrific Stuff" ~95 Decanter
  • Drinking Over the Next 12-15 Years
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About the Wine 

"These Cabernets are for the patient, but make no mistake about it, in top vintages the Howell Mountain is one of the great wines, not just of California, but of the world.”~ Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media.

Since 1979, Randy and Lori Dunn have owned and operated Dunn Vineyards and continue to produce one of the most highly acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignons from Howell Mountain and Napa Valley.

Randy Dunn got his start working for Charlie Wagner at Caymus. From the beginning, the success that catapulted that wine to become one of the most popular and recognized wine brands in the US was due to quality winemaking. Randy acquired a special piece of land on Howell Mountain and has been one of the most important leaders to identify the unique qualities of Napa Valley mountain fruit. The structure the tannins from his estate vineyard are different. They are more rigid in their youth. But, it is the purity of the fruit and the special aging potential of these wines that amazes wine aesthetes. 

Dunn makes two wines. The Howell Mountain Estate and the Napa Valley blend, which is a 50-50 combination of Howell Mountain Estate fruit and some sourced fruit from Coombsville

Tasting Notes: See Critical Reviews for detailed tasting notes.


It’s important to be discriminating as this was a challenging vintage and the wines are very uneven, but I’m something of a connoisseur of the successful 2011 Napa Cabernets, which boast lovely savoury structure that lends them a rather old-world feel. Mike Dunn is justly proud of his achievement in this year, and it may well be the ‘wine of the vintage’ (Graeme MacDonald’s To Kalon Cabernet is also a contender). An appealing bouquet of cassis, graphite, rich soil and subtle tar is followed by a savoury, deep and sappy palate impression, underpinned by bright acids and refined but abundant tannins. Terrific stuff. ~95 Decanter

The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain, which comes 100% from their estate vineyards, is slightly higher in alcohol at 14.3% (despite the label saying 13.9%). Soft, opaque purple-colored, with a ripe, full-bodied mouthfeel and notes of graphite, spring flowers, blueberry and blackberry fruit, it is full-bodied, luscious, and ideal for drinking over the next 12-15 years. ~94 Wine Advocate

Dunn's 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain is a dark, powerful wine. The 2011 possesses tremendous density and tons of pure power. It is also more savory than most Dunn wines, so readers should expect a fair amount of herbal notes. Grilled herbs, scorched earth, licorice, lavender and strong earthy accents abound. The 2011 remains rich, deep and very young. It is one of the most backward Cabernets I tasted for this report. When the 2011 was young, my impression was that it was relatively open for a Dunn wine, today though, the 2011 is decidedly reticent. Harvest took place between October 27 and November 2, just before the last rains of the season on Howell Mountain. ~94 Vinous

A firm and silky wine with blueberries, dark chocolate and hints of spices. Medium-bodied and racy and pretty now. ~93 James Sukling

Clearly the most forward vintage of Dunn Howell I have ever tasted. Approachable, with a creme de cassis, thyme, smoke and cherry character, the wine is medium/full-bodied, soft, round and with an hour or so of decanting , ready to go. ~91 Jeff Leve, The Wine Cellar Insider

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