Stephen & Walker
2005 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Howell Mountain AVA
California: Napa Valley
What we say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
We always feature great wines, but today’s wine is an absolutely superb Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Grab some, Operative, before we run out
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Mission Codename: In Vino Veritas
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Investigate reports that Stephen & Walker still has a handful of cases of its fabled 2005 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. If true, procure any remaining cases for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Stephen & Walker
Wine Subject: 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Nina Walker
Backgrounder: The Howell Mountain region in the Napa Valley is the birthplace of some of our very wines. We fell in love early on and we have not been disappointed by a high-elevation Howell Mountain wine yet. Today’s wine is a bold but balanced delight that is as easy to pair with your best meals, as it is to enjoy as a solo-sipper. We are very happy to have made friends with Stephen & Walker, and happier to have a chance to enjoy their fantastic Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep and inky, burgundy-purple in color with dark concentrated color right to the edges and beautiful clarity through its dark heart – if you look really hard. The wine shows a super-tight surface that settles quickly on swirling, leaving behind razor-thin legs that move slowly down the glass
Smell – Deep, powerful and lush, with aromatic concentrated fruit of black cherry, black plum and dark mixed berries with oak, vanilla and subtle spice. These aromas are followed by subtle forest floor and cherry
Feel – Cool and light across the front of the tongue, the wine really takes hold at the mid and back palate where it coats the mouth and digs in with lively medium tannins
Taste – Layers of darkly concentrated flavors of dark berry, cherry, dark spiced plum, cassis and smoky oak, with follow-on flavors of subtle cranberry and subtlest fresh herbs
Finish – Lush, deep and delicious, with flavors that linger and a soft tannic bite that introduces a hint of dryness – which keep the flavors going strong for a long time
Conclusion – What a great wine this is! We have yet to be anything but thrilled by Cabs which hail from Napa Valley’s high-elevation Howell Mountain. With a richness and a heartiness that is all Napa, this wine also exhibits a subtlety of flavor and feel that make it less oppressive than some more massive Napa Cabs. This is a balanced wine with great acidity, making it a food supporting wine, rather than a food stopping wine. If you enjoy rich Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and want a wine that is a perfect partner for a hearty meal, I know that you will enjoy this wonderful Howell Mountain masterpiece from Stephen & Walker!
“Ἐν οἴνῳ ἀλήθεια!”
I awoke with a start. “Who’s there?!” I demanded.
4:15am. No security alarms. Its cold, but I decide to get up to see if I have had a breech.
A quick sweep of the safe house and a check of the security system reveals that I am, indeed, alone.
When I return to bed, my phone boop-beeps. An urgent dispatch from HQ. It reads:
Agent Red: Pliny the Elder has been kidnapped and is being transported to Germania. Proceed to intercept immediately.
This made little sense. Pliny and Germania. I pinched myself to make sure I was awake. OUCH! It seemed that I was.
I quickly packed my gear and made my way to the door. I opened it, and… there stood an imposing figure – in a toga. He smiled broadly at me and pushed me to the floor. I knew that this was Pliny.
I said to him, "Well, I don’t know how you can even exist, but this should make for an intriguing mission report.
With that, he said, “True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read”
“Umm, ok. If you say so.”
With that he picked up the bottle of Stephen & Walker Howell Mountain Cab that I had reviewed the night before. He looked at the label, grinned broadly and said, “In vino veritas!”
I stared at him for a moment. Then, a loud cacophony of sounds rang out – jarring me suddenly awake. I had been asleep!
I looked over at my review station. There, the bottle I had reviewed sat empty – where I had only poured myself a glass. And, emerging from the neck of the bottle – a single olive branch…
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the vineyard is actually Classified, but the approximate location can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
Gold Medal – Pacific Rim International Wine Competition 08
Gold Medal – San Diego National Wine Competition 08
Gold Medal – West Coast Wine Competition 08
Silver Medal – Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Awards 08
Silver Medal – San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition 08
Silver Medal – National Women’s Wine Competition 08
About This Wine:
Our classic is a tremendous burst of spicy plum, wild blackberry marmalade, with cassis and chocolate cream flavors complementing a ripe, finely meshed tannin. Rich and flamboyant You will never forget this is Cabernet!
No one believes me… when I say that we share these grapes with the bears, mountain lions, turkeys and deer in this remote vineyard… that is until they accompany me to the vineyard! These grapes grow on the slopes of a very famous vineyard above 1,400 feet elevation, in a very remote area of the Howell Mountain appellation in Napa Valley. Of all the places where grapes are grown, this is truly a Grand Cru vineyard and appellation. The vineyard itself is cut from the mountain and grows on terraces so steep that walking down the rows is dangerous!
This single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is crushed and fermented with extended skin contact and maceration for 34 days. It is then pressed and put into small, French oak barrels for 24 months before bottling.
About The Winery:
We are a small, artisanal family owned winery located in the heart of the California wine country in Healdsburg, California. We have spent most of our lives in the vineyards and wineries of California, so it was a natural progression to start our own, winery in 2004. Our three partners: Nancy Walker, Tony Stephen and Irv Bush collectively have half a century growing wine grapes, and making fine wines.
We are proud and passionate to bring you wines made from the remarkable vineyards we tend with our growers in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Monterey Counties. Every bottle of wine we produce has our commitment and unique perspective, and that is to bring you the true flavors realized from the terroir. Based on our experience, we believe each wine is a specific, individual expression of the fruit from our vineyards and the craft of our winemaker.
We are excited to open the doors and welcome you to our new wine tasting room on the Plaza in Healdsburg. Come visit with us, taste our wines and savor the flavors of our Dry Creek Zinfandel, Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Monterey Pinot Noir or Mendocino Port.
About The Winemaker:
Our Winemaker, Nancy Walker, has had the luxury of working as a winemaker in California for the past 22 years. Based in Mendocino County, Nancy has traveled throughout the region visiting growers from Temecula to Portland and from the Shenandoah Valley of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Through her travels, Nancy has developed an appreciation for the regional and local differences that each unique vineyard produces and with this, she is able to tend to our vineyards with our small growers throughout the state, to produce wines of concentration and distinction.
Nancy is a graduate of the University of California at Davis, renowned for winemaking education. Her winemaking career began in 1984, as a cellar worker at McDowell Valley Vineyards. From there, she honed her skills at many local wineries starting with Geyser Peak (1984-1985) as Wine Chemist and QC Technician. From there it was on to Dunnewood (1985-1990), where she was the Assistant Winemaker for 5 years before moving on to Assistant Winemaker at Clos du Bois (1991). Nancy was then responsible for the set up and operation of the small family winery at Brutocao Cellars (1991-1998).
Nancy was then searching for diverse production and vineyard opportunities, and accepted a position at Fetzer Vineyards in Hopland (1998-2005). She then moved on to Winery Exchange (2005-current), an international beverage company, where she is responsible for the winemaking portfolio of Washington, Oregon and California.
Nancy manages has her own wine consulting business where she advises small, micro-lot wine brands of ultra-premium wines.
Appellation: Howell Mountain
Bottling Date: February 17, 2007
Fermentation: 10 days in 1-ton-open-topped fermentation tanks
Oak: 4 year old French barrels
Release Date: June 01, 2007
Tasting Notes: Rich, ripe, jammy, bright cherry-chocolate, soft-ripe supple tannin on a long lingering finish.
Time In Oak: 24 months in French Oak Barrels