What We Say 2005 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
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Today’s selection from Highlands Winery is truly a wine of elegance and distinction. If you are a fan of the great wines from Howell Mountain, this wine belongs in your cellar.
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Mission Codename: From on High
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Secure an exceptional selection from Highlands Winery
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Highlands Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Dave Cofran
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.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby red, this wine maintains its color concentration right out to the edge of the glass. At its heart, the wine has a deeper core of dark black cherry. When you swirl this wine, it shows off a softly springy surface. When it settles, it leaves behind tightly packed clusters of chubby legs that take forever to emerge before they crawl slowly down the glass
Smell – Bold intensity with a big initial rush of bright red fruit of raspberry, cranberry, red currant and cherry. These are soon followed by blackberry, bramble, tomato stem, oak and soft spices
Feel – Solid, rich and almost rustic in character, this full-bodied wine has great firm tannins and a well balanced acidity. Well structured, but not overpowering, as this wine opens up and breathes, it softens and a more subdued character is revealed
Taste -This wine begins dusky, dark and rich with juicy flavors of black cherry, blackberry and blueberry, with smoky raspberry and soft cola. As the wine opens up it softens and reveals flavors of tart plum and soft spice
Finish – Starts dusky and dark, then sweet. these are followed soon after by softly spicy and smoky-tart flavors that linger for a long time
Conclusion – A dusky, deep and delicious wine that delivers a classic Napa Cab experience. A really impressive wine, we appreciate it for its depth, dusky-delicious flavors, medium-weight feel and brightly lush aromatics. After some time decanted, the feel of the wine softens and additional flavors reveal themselves, making an extended tasting of the wine fun and fulfilling experience. Balanced, rich, food-friendly and elegant, this is a great solo-drinker or the perfect companion to a hearty meal
For today’s wine, Agent Red had the good fortune to spend a few minutes with Highlands’ winemaker, Dave Cofran. The transcript follows:
AGENT RED: Greetings, Dave. We are thrilled to be showing your Howell Mountain Cab today. The wine is really wonderful. Thanks so much for allowing us to show your wine, and for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
DAVE COFRAN: We are very excited to be able to offer our 2005 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon to your operatives.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
DAVE: My father had a wine shop and I became interested in wine early.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
DAVE: University of California at Davis was a very eye opening experience about the possibilities and complexities of winemaking. My studies blended the technical aspects of chemistry with the art of winemaking.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
DAVE: We want to make modestly extracted, easy drinking food friendly wines from the finest Napa Valley mountain grapes. We restrict our winemaking to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Through my years at Silver Oak I learned to appreciate the value of focus on a few varieties and perfecting the techniques necessary to produce superior products.
RED: Please tell me, what makes Howell Mountain fruit so special?
DAVE: Howell Mountain appellation is well above the fog that covers the Napa Valley most mornings during the summer. Temperatures are generally cooler in the evening , causing longer “hang times” and more intense flavors. Volcanic soils are well drained and in combination with the steep slopes, cause vine stress ,low yields and extremely flavorful grapes. These grapes give us endless possibilities to let the fruit come forward in our wines.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
DAVE: Joe Heitz had a tremendous influence on my early winemaking. His Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet was a benchmark which provided a lofty goal for me.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
DAVE: Over 40 years as winegrower.
RED: And, for whom do you make wine?
DAVE: We make wine to be a fine accompaniment to rich and flavorful foods.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
DAVE: You must have a passion for fine wine joined with proper technical training.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
DAVE: Supervising production with our new consulting winemaker, Jeff Fontanella, and assisting in the sales and marketing of our wines.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
DAVE: This 100 Cabernet Sauvignon is a combination of wines from two distinctive vineyards atop Howell Mountain. Although they are similar soil types, trellising methods are very different. However both provide good light exposure for the fruit.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
DAVE: My favorite pairing is with barbecued dark meat which smooths out the modest tannins present in the wine.
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
DAVE: Any Highlands red wine!
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
DAVE: With Gusto and enthusiasm for the intense fruit flavors.
RED: Agreed! If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
DAVE: Cabernet Sauvignon
RED: A simple answer. I like it! Thank you so much for your time. Keep up the great work, we became fast fans of your wine and we look forward to your next releases. We are big fans!
DAVE: Thank you for your support. We hope your operatives enjoy this wine as much as we have enjoyed making it.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Howell Mountain can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
A wine with a luscious fruity nose, full bright mouth of red fruits with hints of blueberries balanced with quality oak characters. A lingering pleasant finish melds with and carries rich food parings.
Wine Philosophy: Highlands Wines confirm that quality winemaking starts in the vineyard. Every vintage presents unique opportunities to explore and express the best the fruit and terroir has to offer. To maximize vintage opportunities, Highlands focuses on small lot production using inspired and uncompromised winemaking techniques. Bottling wines of intelligent and privileged character demonstrates our commitment to excellence. We at Highlands appreciate your participation in our discriminating enological experience of hand-crafted wines.
Food Parings: This wine has full varietal character with eloquent oak and acid structure. This California style Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with beef roasts, steak, pate, duck, goose, spicy poultry dark meat, sausage. Strong cheeses like cheddar and blue cheese are a delight with this wine.
Vintage Notes: 2005 brought unseasonably late spring rains that delayed flowering. The mid summer months were mild and pleasant with warming into early fall with nearly perfect ripening conditions. Absent the typical heat spikes harvest came late but with little consequence as the weather continued warm and dry allowing for extended hang time and concentration of flavors. The bountiful 2005 vintage is noted for its remarkable quality.
Winemaker Notes: The exceptional harvest conditions brought fruit to the winery needing little. This wine knew what it wanted to be. Winemaking simply provided the environment for this wine to express itself.
Aging: 18 months in 33% new French Oak barrels.
Cellaring: Enjoy now or cellar for 7 plus years for later delight.
About The Winery:
Napa Valley embraces all its vintners and growers. Paul Segas and Dave Cofran, Highlands Winery’s proprietors have roots that extend to the Seventies when being a vintner was extremely risky and not a sure thing. Paul Segas’ and Dave Cofran’s heritage in the Napa Valley extend far beyond their experience as they are considered pioneers in the Napa Valley viticulture and viniculture community.
Dave Cofran – Dave Cofran worked in the valley as an enologist and winemaker, starting in 1967. In 1984, he joined old classmate Justin Meyer as General Manager of the famed Silver Oak Cellars, to this day, one of the premier Napa Valley wineries. Dave remembers the early days of Silver Oak when the winery was literally in an old cow barn.
At first, Silver Oak farmed primarily on flat land but as time went on, the winery discovered the value of higher altitude vineyards. This affinity for the hills influenced Dave’s desire to base Highland’s wines around Howell Mountain’s fruit. As a matter of fact, the fruit from the Black Sears vineyard used in the Highlands Cabernet is harvested from the highest altitude of any vineyard in the Napa Valley. In addition the vineyard is farmed organically and the wines produced from Black-Sears vineyard are truly organic.
The cool night on Howell Mountain give our grapes it unique character. The grapes “bud out” late and are slower to develop. This late ripening grape has superior hang time which then produces exquisite flavors.
Think back to where you were in 1967 when Dave started in the wine business, that accumulated knowledge, experience, and judgment can be tasted in every glass of Highlands Winery wines.
Paul Segas – Paul Segas another Napa Valley pioneer from the Seventies has over 33 years of grape-growing history in his portfolio. In 1973, Paul, an executive with IBM in San Francisco, saw an opportunity in the wine business he wanted to pursue. With absolutely no experience, he acquired vineyard property in both Sonoma and Napa.
Paul took classes at UC Davis, networked with vineyard people in Napa, and read extensively while holding down his travel-intensive job at IBM.
Grapes are picked in small boxes to keep them from being damaged.
In a short time, his grapes became a much sought-after commodity for such brands as Chateau Montelena, Bouchaine, Pine Ridge, Robert Mondavi, Joseph Phelps, Domaine Chandon and Mumm Napa Valley, to name just a few.
In the course of these relationships, Paul had the privilege to work with the founders of these great brands, and was amazed that they would share so much knowledge with him. Much of this knowledge would be considered “trade secrets” in other businesses.
In 2000, Paul met the owners of Freemark Abbey, who introduced them to winemaker Bruce Scotland who had been making wines from Howell Mountain fruit. In partnership, they created Highlands Winery in order to establish a high-end brand independent of Freemark Abbey.
In 2005, Paul purchased the brand, and brought on Dave Cofran, who had just retired from Silver Oak, as managing partners.
Combined, Paul and Dave have over 70 years of grape growing and wine making experience! Every bottle of Highland’s wines shine with this experience.
Fermentation: Small Stainless steel tanks
Blend Varietals: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Blend Appellation: 100% Howell Mountain
Production: 1120 Cases