2006 Howell Mountain Trio
California: Napa Valley: Howell Mountain
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Bravante? Bravado!
Operative: Agent Noir
Objective: Send newly-returned Deep Cover Agent, Agent Noir, to locate a stellar Napa Valley red blend – for our thirsty Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Bravante Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Howell Mountain Trio
Winemaker: Duane Dappen
Backgrounder: Today we welcome back Agent Noir, who has been on an extended deep cover mission in California’s Central Coast. We press Noir into service, today, to procure a delicious Napa Valley Red blend. His search took him up the slopes of Howell Mountain, in Napa Valley’s
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Classic dark garnet hue with a black middle, showing the Howell Mountain blooding edge, leaving a thick coating to the glass with slow rolling tears of pure glycerin.
Smell – Oak vanilla, flower petals, cedar, spices and racy red fruits all wound up on the nose with good depth and perfume.
Feel – Richly tannic from the Mountain fruit and grip from the Cabernet Sauvignon, but still smooth and balanced from the Merlot, and elegance with subtle spiciness from the Cabernet Franc. This is a real Bordeaux style full-bodied Meritage from the famed Howell Mountain, in the Napa Valley.
Taste – Big dark fruit, ripe tannins, and vanilla spice from the classy oak use, all comes flowing across the palate. Once introduced to some air, lush blackberry, ripe plum, kirsch and currants come to the forefront of this mountain red. Some notes of pepper spice, lavender, cocoa, tobacco and licorice frame the fruit in the background and vanilla bean linger towards the end of each sip.
Finish – Plush fruit, oak and earthy mineral flashes all pop on the vibrant and powerful finish, this is serious stuff.
Conclusion – A polished and powerful display of a California Meritage. Rich viscosity and solid fruit create an vigorous, but elegant flavor profile; with Haut-Brion style characteristics and depth you want to savor with each glass. Pair this special bottle with friends, hard cheeses or hearty simple fare.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Duane. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Trio today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
DUANE: You’re welcome. I am excited to be working with you spies and I promise to not reveal your true names.
RED: We appreciate that! Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
DUANE: As I was growing up in El Dorado County, I worked with a friend’s father making home wine in their cave that was an abandoned gold mine. I actually did a 4-H project of winemaking. We entered our wines in the El Dorado County Fair and won ‘Best of Show’ for our Wild Blackberry wine.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
DUANE: I have worked with many winemakers and have influences from several, so there is not any to really single out. Working here in the Napa Valley for 25 years has allowed me to work with and try many wines.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
DUANE: I make it for the ladies. Wine sales many times ultimately come down to whether chicks dig it or not.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
DUANE: The 2006 TRIO is a blend of the three Bordeaux varieties we grow on our Howell Mountain property; Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. I make this wine to have all the flavors that a Howell Mountain wine will have, but to be a little more approachable so it can be enjoyed now. This wine will still improve and become even yummier with some more bottle time.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
DUANE: The TRIO goes great with a grilled steak, my 6 year old makes sure it’s a steak with a bone. A nice ribeye or New York. I also enjoy it with a rich risotto with mushrooms.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Howell Mountain region so special?
DUANE: Howell Mountain is a great place to grow red grapes. Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Franc all do great here. We are above the spring and summer morning fog that Napa Valley has so we have more hours of sunshine but that fog keeps the temperature down so the grapes ripen evenly. Between that and the rocky iron rich soils we have we get great complexity and intensity of flavors.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
DUANE: We are bottling our 2009 Sauvignon Blanc’s on Monday. We will have our first Estate Howell Mountain Sauvignon Blanc! After that I will be working on the 2008 red blends.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
DUANE: They should get some good friends and loved ones have some of our tasty Howell Mountain wines and good food and enjoy themselves. The main thing anyone needs to know about wine is what they like!
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
DUANE: Come check out the new winery and enjoy the beautiful Howell Mountain countryside.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Bravante Vineyards winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
93 Points – Wine & Spirits Magazine July 2009
90 Points – Wine Spectator, September, 2009
About This Wine:
“…Primarily Merlot blended with Cabernets Sauvignon and Cab Franc, this young mountain wine has the mineral edges to its tannin that Howell Mountain often gives, with a wild blackberry fruit clarity to relieve some of that tightness of structure and a mouthwatering balance between umami and sweetness. This needs several years to evolve, or several hours in a decanter before serving with grilled Portobello mushrooms stuffed with ground veal….”
About The Winery:
Bravante Vineyards is home to premium, estate-grown and produced Howell Mountain wines. With commitment to quality driving everything we do in the vineyard and in the cellar, we are focused on crafting consistently delicious and well-made wines from our historic Howell Mountain Appellation.
From the beginning, our wine philosophy has been grounded in one word: commitment. Commitment to creating world class wine and commitment to the winemaking styles that best express the varietals of the historic Howell Mountain Appellation in Napa Valley. We are committed to continually developing our state-of-the-art estate properties with good stewardship always in mind, selecting the most appropriate root stocks and clones available in conjunction with utilizing the most advanced but gentle farming techniques. We know that every vintage offers it’s own unique challenges, and so we are ever watchful and ready to adapt to ensure that our wine-grapes are well-tended and that the quality of our fruit is the highest it can be. This overall commitment to “quality over quantity”, geared toward preserving our unique Howell Mountain terroir, helps us fulfill our winemaking commitment to our friends, family and loyal customers: bottling consistently well-made, perfectly balanced wines that offer true expressions of all that Howell Mountain fruit has to offer.
About The Winemaker:
Duane Dappen – I was raised in an agricultural family; my maternal grandfather managed a fish hatchery in Wisconson and my dad was a prized beekeeper. I was in 4-H since the age of 9, starting with raising steers for the El Dorado county fair then working with bees producing wonderful foothills honey. In high school I had some friends whose parents made wine in their cave (actually an old gold mine). Their son, myself and another friend started a 4-H project and entered the results of our work in the El Dorado County Fair Home Winemaking competition. We made some Chenin Blanc and Grenache with must donated by Greg Boeger from Boeger Vineyards in Placerville. We also produced a Plum wine and a Blackberry wine, The Blackberry wine received “Best of Show”. This was the inspiration I needed to enter the enology program at The University of California, Davis.
After graduating from UC Davis, I went to work as a cellar worker at Grgich Hills Cellars. There, alongside four other UC Davis graduates and Mike Grgich, I learned the critically important winery production processes for producing ultra premium wines. This was all about cleaning barrels, endless pump overs, lugging scores of hosing, racking wine and a multitude of additional chores that must be done to produce a fine wine. Grgich Hills was a great place to begin a winemaking career as I was surrounded by passionate, innovative peers and shown what it takes to build a great wine.
In 1989 I moved north as cellar master to one of Napa Valley’s renowned Zinfandel producers, Jerry Seps’s Storybook Mountain. The move to a much smaller operation afforded me the opportunity to oversee nearly all production aspects at the winery. This four year, Zinfandel-intensive tenure was incredibly valuable to my winemaking career.
The year 1993 brought me to Rombauer Vineyards where I began as cellar master but quickly rose to the assistant winemaker position. Because Rombauer also functions as a custom crush facility, (a facility where small wineries may bring their grapes to be produced into wine) it was a unique opportunity to work with a wide spectrum of varietals, winemaking styles and a multitude of respected winemakers. Finally, in 1998 Frank Family Vineyards offered me the opportunity to be winemaker. I produced an amazing array of wine brands including Rombauer, and Frank Family still and sparkling wines and many different boutique wineries. During this time I started working with Bravante Vineyards, producing wines from the Stone Ridge Vineyard on Howell Mountain. Using the wonderful grapes grown from our estate vineyard I started producing the wines that we have now.
Appellation: Howell Mountain
Bottling Date: August 12, 2008
Months in Barrel: 23 Months
Release Date: March 01, 2009
Varietal: 62.0% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc