2014 Howell Mountain Merlot
Red Blend •Bravante Estate
California: Napa Valley: Howell Mountain
Bravi, bravo, bravissimi, bravissimo!
“Loads to love.” – Jeb Dunnuck
Howell Mountain - those two words on just about any bottle make our hearts go pitter-patter. And getting this masterclass in balance and style from a premier boutique winery for nearly half off!? Well, that just about has us ready to run through a wall.
Anyone who’s serious about Cabernet knows some of these small producers on Howell absolutely crush it. And if you’re looking for a case study in how Merlot can stand up to, or dare we say even surpass Cabernet’s strength and finesse, here it is for a one-time-only, while it lasts 44% window of opportunity.
“Plush, supple and seamlessly long” sings James in his glowing review, while Jeb chimes in with “nicely concentrated” in his. Noir took one sip and added “oh mama!”.
This blends in 8% Cabernet Franc which adds a touch of minerality. Gaining nothing but polish with six years in the bottle, it’s pumped full of deep, dark black fruit and savory elements. Blackberry jam for days, black cherry, and cassis along with sweet soil, smoke meats, and savory herbs all wrapped up in a band of vanilla and oak. Mouthcoating, brooding, and straight-up shocking to anyone who thinks Merlot needs to be some insipid, boring style, while still seamless and balanced front to back with a finish that never ends.
Bravante has one of the coolest named winemakers around - Duane ‘D-Cubed’ Dappen, and as an alum of Frank Family, Rombauer, and Grgich Hills, he also has the chops to work this mountain fruit into a voluminous, unrestrained tour de force.
Experience what all the hype is about, claim your bottles briskly before they disappear.
93 Points – James Suckling
“Subtly earthy nuances across ripe red plums and blackberries, leading to a plush, supple and seamlessly long, fresh palate. Impressive depth and focus here. Drink or hold.”
91 Points – Jeb Dunnuck
“As with all three of the Merlot releases, it’s nicely textured, balanced, and thoroughly enjoyable, with ample character. The same blend and élevage, the 2014 Merlot is more open and expressive, with complex notes of spice, cherries, incense, dried herbs, and hints of chocolate. It too is nicely concentrated, textured, and well-balanced, with loads to love. Drink 2019-2029.”
A vibrant ruby peeks through a near opaque core, turning mildly garnet towards the rim
Blackberry jam for days, black cherry, and cassis along with sweet soil, smoke meats, and savory herbs all wrapped up in a band of vanilla and oak
The Cabernet Franc component adds a touch of minerality, gaining nothing but polish with six years in the bottle, it’s pumped full of deep, dark black fruit and savory elements
Mouthcoating, brooding, and straight-up shocking to anyone who thinks Merlot needs to be some insipid, boring style, while still seamless and balanced front to back with a finish that never ends
Rich enough for hearty fare, while with an elegance and finesse that would be accentuated with a simple aged cheese and charcuterie spread
What the Winery Says
- Duane Dappen
- 92% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc
- Howell Mountain
- Bravante Estate
- Total acidity
- 6.5 g/L
- Bottling date
- September 2016
- 22 months
- 35% new French oak