What We Say 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
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Mission Codename: It was a very good year…
Operative: Agent Red with new recruit, Agent Syrah
Objective:Return to St. Clement Vineyards. This time raid their library and obtain one of their fabled winery only single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: St. Clement Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
Winemaker: Danielle Cyrot
Backgrounder: 2002 was an exceptional year in Napa Valley, and winemaker Danielle Cyrot has taken full advantage of the lush single vineyard Howell Mountain fruit that makes up today’s incredible Cabernet Sauvignon.
Today, we also introduce a new associate agent, Agent Syrah. This dynamic young agent brings a keen nose for sleuthing out fine wines. Read the combined tasting notes and mission report from our two agents, below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby red, this wine maintains its deeply concentrated color – right out to the edge of the glass. At its heart, the wine has a deeper core of darkest burgundy. when swirled, this wine settles very quickly, leaving behind wide-spread and ultra-skinny legs that move slowly down the glass
Smell -Rich and intense jammy blackberry, smoky boysenberry, high-note dark cherry, with subtle tomato stem, earth, soft vanilla and freshly roasted coffee beans
Feel – Medium round and velvet smooth on entry, then light weight across the mid-palate. Further back, the wine becomes grippy as medium tannins take hold, drying the back of the tongue and the roof of the mouth.
Taste -This wine begins sweet, with dark ripe blackberry, bright red cherry, smoky red plum, cola with a splash natural sweet cherry juice (as opposed to artificial cherry cola), raspberry, dark chocolate and soft spice
Finish -Leads off sweet, and finishes tart with dark fruit flavors that linger
Conclusion -An incredible wine that pleases us on so many levels! This wine is rich and delicious, without overpowering your senses. Refined, balanced and food-friendly, this is a serious Napa cab with a delightful balance and incredible flavors. The feel is out of this world as well, leading with a beautiful velvet smoothness
It was Agent Syrah’s first day in the field. After a long and grueling training, he was ready for a mission of his own.
The day started off simply enough. Our young new recruit shadowed me on several winery visits, some covert, others prearranged with previously vetted wineries. He handled himself well and I decided that he was ready for a test.
While on a break for lunch, my phone rang and I excused myself to take the call. What Agent Syrah didn’t know, was that I had programmed my phone to interrupt us. This, in order that I could ditch our Wine Spy trainee.
After several minutes, I sent an alert to his Wine Spies-issued handheld communicator. It read:
Agent Red has been compromised. Proceed to rally point alpha, where you will be approached by a man wearing a wine-colored tie. Act on his instructions.
The Man was Agent Malbec, a double Agent who is our mole deep within International Wine Conglomerate [REDACTED].
I followed Agent Syrah from a safe distance. He made it to the rally point, where I witnessed Agent Malbec make contact. Malbec wore a concealed microphone and I listened in.
“Yeah. Listen carefully kid, I’ll only say this once: Howl from the mountain, Saint Fishman Wears Glasses.”
With that, the two parted ways and Agent Syrah walked to the nearest park bench. He pulled out his handheld and began typing quickly. Less then two minutes later, Agent Syrah put his handheld to his ear. A moment later, my handheld rang.
“Go for Red,” I answered.
“Syrah here. Are you burned?”
“No. All clear now. What’s your status? This line is secure, so speak freely.”
“I received a directive from H.Q. and it led to to a rendezvous with an Agent Malbec. He passed on a coded message. I’ve decoded it and am awaiting further instruction.”
He repeated the message to me and then I asked him for his interpretation. To my surprise, he nailed it!
“The Wine Subject is St. Clement’s 2002 Howell Mountain single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. ‘_Howl from the mountain’_, was ‘Howell Mountain’. And, ‘Saint Fishman Wears Glasses’, well, that was easy, too. With my photographic memory, I can remember every wine label I have ever seen. Clement’s 2002 Howell Mountain has a great image of a fish wearing glasses!”
I paused for dramatic effect.
“Very good,” I said. “Proceed to dead-drop Cherry Blossom and retrieve a sample. Then return to H.Q. for a debriefing – and tasting.”
In under an hour, Agent Syrah had returned to H.Q. with bottle in hand. With an understated congratulations, we uncorked the bottle and proceeded to analyze – and taste – the wine.
Well done, Agent Syrah, but greater challenges await you! And not every wine is a fantastic as today’s today’s incredible St. Clement Howell Mountain Cab…
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the St. Clement Vineyards winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
St. Clement Vineyards
Awards & Accolades:
Rated 93-95, Wine Advocate “This is the finest portfolio of wines I have ever tasted from St. Clement. These are all serious, outstanding efforts that merit significant attention. St. Clement has never before made wines this dazzling, so readers should jump on the bandwagon before the prices go even higher.” Robert Parker, December 2003.
About This Wine:
Gratifying aromas of cassis, blueberry, black cherries, vanilla bean coffee, dark chocolate and raspberry jam tempt your palate. With a rich entry of caramel, cherry cola and plum spice, the wine offers up a palate of integrated subtle yet firm tannin and structure. On the finish are flavors of raspberry liqueur laced with caramel and coffee.
A mild summer weather pattern in 2002 allowed the grapes to hang longer on the vine, producing rich, ripe fruit flavors that produce wines of notable complexity. With only a few brief periods of temperatures reaching over the 100° mark, most of the days leading up to harvest were quite uneventful. The result was an average size crop of small, concentrated berries with excellent acid to sugar ratios and big, lush flavors.
All of the fruit for this Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the esteemed Howell Mountain appellation, hailing from the Steinhauer Vineyard. The juice is fermented on the skins for 25-30 days in open top fermentors. The cap is gently punched down three times a day to extract all of the beautiful flavors and tannin that is evident in the resulting wine. The Cabernet Sauvignon is then barrel aged for 22 months in 100% new French oak barrels. All of these techniques combine to increase the depth and complexity of the wine – thus producing a well balanced Cabernet Sauvignon.
About The Winery:
The philosophical approach to winemaking at St Clement is all about the land of Napa Valley. Much has been written about the idyllic nature and diversity of this 50-mile long valley. It is this diversity that forms the foundation for our approach to winemaking.
As an artist holds many colors on the palette to create subtle hues, we hold a collection of vineyards from the north in Calistoga to the south in Carneros and from the alluvial benches of the valley floor at Rutherford to the cloud clinging heights of Mt Veeder.
We take the fruit from this collection of small, independent growers to balance, blend and build our wines into totalities that mirror the complexity and beauty of the Napa valley itself.
About The Winemaker:
Danielle Cyrot – Winemaker, St. Clement Vineyards – As the third decade of her life begins, Danielle Cyrot brings a broad scope of international winemaking expertise that extends well beyond her age. And as the descendant of French vignerons whose history goes back for centuries, she is also renewing an enological tradition that had been dormant for three generations.
Varietals: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Howell Mountain
Harvest Dates: October, 2002
Release Date: November 2005
Production: 758 Cases