The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain is big, dark and juicy. There is an element of wildness that runs through the wine. Graphite, licorice, tar and smoke are just some of the nuances that add complexity. The 2006 boasts superb purity from start to finish. Elements of fleshiness give the impression the 2006 might drink well relatively early, until the massive tannins set in. Floral notes add freshness on the finish. This is another fabulous wine from Randy Dunn. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2036.
I tasted a large number of wines with Randy Dunn this year. These are some of the most powerful, age worthy Cabernets being made in Napa Valley today. Dunn is very much an iconoclast who follows his own convictions. Picking is a bit earlier here than elsewhere throughout the valley. Dunn isn’t too concerned if stems occasionally make it into the fermenter. A fervent advocate of lower-alcohol wines, Dunn makes no apologies for removing alcohol from his wines if they come in above 14%. Personally, that strikes me as a totally unnecessary intervention, but it’s hard to argue with the quality of what is in the bottle, and ultimately that is what counts most. The Napa Valley bottling includes purchased fruit from the valley floor and is typically a slightly more accessible wine, while the Howell Mountain is a much tougher wine that typically demands 20 years to enter its early peak. 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. Readers who want to explore these wines without waiting several decades may want to start with the 2005 or 2007 Napa Valley bottlings, both of which are somewhat accessible at this stage.