This iconic wine, consistently made since it was first released in 1979 by Randy Dunn, is always aged 30 months in barrel and then an additional six months in bottle prior to being released. It is always 100% Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Randy Dunn is one of the first advocates of alcohol levels under 14%. (This one is listed at 13.8%.) I just can’t comprehend the obsession and polemics about alcohol. Unless the wine lacks balance and character, it is rarely even a legitimate issue. Anything between 12.5% and 15.5%-16% can work well, and even some higher ones seem to carry their alcohol extraordinarily well, especially if they are made from grapes such as Zinfandel or Grenache. Dense purple in color and still looking like a barrel sample, the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain has a nice, cedary, new saddle leather-infused blackcurrant richness, outstanding purity, medium to full body, sweet tannin and a layered, lush texture. The level of concentration is impressive. I don’t think there’s a wine taster that could tell whether this is 13.8% or 15.8% alcohol, given this level of richness. This wine is certainly accessible, but probably won’t hit its prime for another 5-7 years, and like most Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignons, it will have a good 30+ years of longevity. (Keep in mind that his 1982 is just now hitting that peak of quality to my palate.) (RP)
(13.8% alcohol): Dark red. Aromas of crushed cassis, minerals and violet are accompanied by some slightly sauvage notes of leather and game. Juicy, savory and penetrating in the mouth, should outstanding energy and strong underlying minerality to its fine-grained flavors of dark berries, mocha and game. Very sexy, grown-up wine with a subtle sweetness--not at all a blockbuster. Terrific clarity and class here. Really resounds and rises on the end. Sexy juice--and likely to be very long-lived. 94+ Points
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