White Cottage Ranch Winery (CLOSED)

2008 Howell Mountain Red

Red Blend

California: Napa Valley: Howell Mountain

Offer Expired:Oct 01, 2010 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


Don’t let the 1 Liter JUG fool you! Today’s wine is a stealthy blend of brilliance in a goofy bottle. The wine is so good, that it earns today’s special alert.


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Mission Codename: Nice Jugs

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Revisit our friends at White Cottage Ranch Winery and secure their latest release of the delicious Risa Cabernet Sauvignon

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: White Cottage Ranch Winery

Wine Subject: 2008 Red Wine Howell Mountain Napa Valley

Winemaker: Rudy Zuidema


Napa County’s Howell Mountain AVA, established in 1984 is known for its wines of deep concentration and intensity. The higher elevation and relatively flat aspect make the location great for vineyards, and specifically Cabernet Sauvignon. The first vines in the Howell Mountain area were planted in the 1880s. The Howell Mountain region in the Napa Valley is the birthplace of some of our very favorite wines. We fell in love early on with Rudy Zuidema’s wines and we have not been disappointed by one of this high-elevation Howell Mountain wines yet. Today’s wine is a made from a blend of mountain fruit and fruit from the floor of the valley, imbuing the wine with a balanced best of both worlds flair.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dazzling deep ruby red, with perfect clarity. The color is pure cherry juice and the wine shows a tight surface that seems to snap to perfectly still, rather quickly, after swirling. When the wine does settle, thin wine-stained tears move very slowly down the glass.

Smell – Dark red cherry and blackberry combine with freshly watered summer blackberry bramble (how is that for a specific aroma!?), ripe strawberry, softly smoky blueberry, vanilla, earthen Italian dried herbs and softest oak.

Feel – Ultra smooth on entry, leading to a soft dryness brought on by the soft tannins. A balanced medium body fills the palate, while an easy acidity hint at the food-friendliness of the wine.

Taste – Delicious read and black fruit right off, led by black cherry, smoky blackberry, dark raspberry and plum. These are followed by softest clove, cinnamon, dried red flower petals and a hint of Italian herbs.

Finish – The flavors go on for a long time, gradually moving from red and sweet to darker and slightly tart, with a hint of black pepper spice and dark dried flower petals.

Conclusion – Don’t let the Jug bottle fool you. The 2008 White Cottage Ranch Red Wine from the Howell Mountain region, high atop the Napa Valley, is a fantastic wine that delivered more refinement and style that we initially expected. In fact, it really impressed us! This is a very delicious wine that combines winemaker Rudy Zudiema’s experience with some of the finest fruit in the Napa Valley. This wine is well-structured and delicious with balanced red and black fruits, a perfect feel and deep aromatics. Despite its youth, this wine drinks like a wine with a few years of bottle age. Pair this causally packaged wine with a fancy meal – and watch the surprised expressions on your friends faces as they taste this elegant wine!

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Rudy Zuidema

WINE EDUCATION: BS Ag Science Management UCD 1991

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: St. Clement 91-93, 93-94 Cuvaison, Honig/Patz and Hall 94-96, Robert Craig 96-02, Ehlers Estate 02-07, White Cottage Ranch 07-present

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Make authentic, natural wines that tell the story of the vintage.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: Good enough just isn’t.

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: As head winemaker, the 1996 Robert Craig Mt. Veeder Cabernet came out in February of 1999.


AGENT RED: Greetings, Rudy. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Howell Mountain Red Wine today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

RUDY ZUIDEMA: Thank you for having me. I am so excited about this….I feel like I’m in “The Borne Wine Blend” movie

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

RUDY: Of course, and they continue to happen regularly. Initially it was when I was in the south of France working in a small cooperative winery in a village of 180 people. Everyone in this village had anywhere from a few vines to a few acres of vines, all of which were brought to the co-op. Regardless of variety or ripeness, the whites got dumped in one vat and the reds in another. The farmers would then take their weightage over to the warehouse and trade in the ticket for their cased wine for the year. The wines were absolutely horrible!! However, the pride each and every person had for this wine was amazing. The quality meant nothing, but the fact that this was an effort that all 180 people were part of made the wine taste like liquid gold.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

RUDY: Ben Riggs, from Australia, is a big part of who I am now. His winemaking was driven by texture, not flavor. He allowed the vintages to change in flavor profiles but all of them felt the same in acidity, viscosity, and weight. I love that feel.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

RUDY: Behind every good winemaker is a great spouse. My wife is the only one who I need to make sure can get through half a bottle and love every sip. If I can accomplish that, I’m sure there will be some others who jump on the bandwagon.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

RUDY: This is one of my favorite blends. It is so different than the typical Bordeaux style wines I make. It is soft yet unpolished and so ready for an accidental fun late night with the neighbors.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

RUDY: The JUG is perfect with classic red sauce and Italian fare. Great spaghetti, lasagne, or boulabaise go so well with the JUG. The most important part of the recipe is the company. No snobs allowed!

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Howell Mountain so special?

RUDY: Howell Mountain is special for many reasons. The on the makes this wine stand out is how the earthy old world flavors come through. I love the dusty, rustic finish and the big punch of fruit that makes even this 1.0L bottle empty way too fast.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

RUDY: We are finally getting our hands and winery sticky with fresh grapes and juice coming in regularly. It is a very late year but the balance and flavors of EVERYTHING I have worked with has been incredible. Be ready for some beautiful classy wines that are only 13% alcohol from the 2010 vintage.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

RUDY: Trust your own tastes. Try not to let anyone else tell you what wine you should like or why you should like it. If you think the really special and expensive wine on the table sucks…..it sucks!

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

RUDY: Here at White Cottage Ranch we take our farming and winemaking pretty seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Come on up and get to know us and ask a bunch of silly wine questions. We’ll love to talk about them with you.

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!

RUDY: We are always ready to have you and your loyal customers come up for a real winery experience. Borrow some clothes and come jump in… literally!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the White Cottage Ranch Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

“While this new release of the Howell Mt Red is true to the character of our playful “jug wine” this vintage is quite different. The young Cabernet Sauvignon vines that have been the core of this wine are now matured and will be fabulous components in our flagship Estate Howell Mt. Cabernet bottling. The jug has become our new “ezivese” which is a blend of Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Petit Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

The fruit is rich and jammy with high tones of blueberry and plum. There is much complexity in the layers of sweet leather, tarragon and spice. The texture of the wine is smooth and silky allowing the crisp raspberry and cherry to linger on and on. Please take this wine to your next snobby wine party to see the reaction of the guests.” – Rudy Zuidema, Winemaker

About The Winery:

Dennis and Adele Johns grew up together as high school sweethearts in St. Helena, the heart of Napa Valley. As the winemaker at St. Clement Vineyards for twenty years, Dennis established his reputation as an innovative and highly respected winemaker.

In the search to begin their own vineyard and winery, Dennis and Adele discovered that the last 65 acres of White Cottage Ranch, a historic 5000 acre cattle ranch dating from the 1800’s, was for sale.

The most outstanding factor of the property was that this land was on Howell Mountain, an area recognized for growing exceptional red wine varietals for over 100 years. Dennis and Adele’s firm belief that fine wines are ‘grown’ and not just vinted, coupled with plans to produce high quality red wines, forged the 1989 purchase of White Cottage Ranch.

In 1990, five different variations of resistant rootstock were planted based on the soil profiles. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were budded in 1991. The first crop was in 1993. Subsequently, they have added Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Syrah.

A new winery was finished in the summer of 2005 and is now open by appointment to taste.

The family produces small amounts of artisan crafted wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and a Sangiovese-Zinfandel blend they call “Ezivese”.

About The Winemaker:

Rudy Zuidema has quickly worked his way up the ladder of a winemaking career. After graduating from U.C. Davis in 1991 with a degree in Plant Science and Agricultural Management, and a harvest with Wirra Wirra, Australia under his belt, he started as an entry-level cellar man at St. Clement Vineyards. There he found the ultimate mentor, then winemaker Dennis Johns. At that point, Rudy decided that he would be making wine for the rest of his life, and also discovered and began to develop a winemaking style that embraces a balanced fusion of concentrated fruits, rich aromatics and seamless textures.

After St. Clement, Rudy took his next steps in cellar management at Cuvaison Winery, and then moved on to an assistant winemaking position at Honig Winery, followed by a seven-year stint as head winemaker for Robert Craig Wine Cellars. Working with specialized varietals from each of these spectacular properties, and exploring the range of growing and winemaking techniques a single grape can inspire, Rudy finds his work a labor of love.

At White Cottage Ranch, Rudy also manages the estate organic and biodynamic-farming program.

Technical Analysis:

Vintage: 2008

Wine Type: Red Wine

Alcohol: 14.1%

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