Dunn

Honest Howell Mountain Cabernet

A family-owned winery located on Howell Mountain, Dunn Vineyards may be Napa Valley’s best analogy to a Bordeaux Grand Cru but operated by a man with all the pretense of a humble, countryside vigneron. Like great Bordeaux, the wines are consistent in quality; deep with dark fruit and earthy flavors; chewably tannic, moderately alcoholic and refreshingly acidic – that is to say elegant, structured and honest. They are aged for up to 30 months, primarily in new French oak, and they reward patient cellaring. Dunn offers just two bottlings: Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (the “grand vin” – austere when young but built to last) and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (the “second label” – more approachable with the inclusion of around 15% valley fruit). Unlike many Napa wineries, there’s no edifice grander than a cave bored deep into the mountain, no tasting room, and marketing or sales staff. Almost all the work is carried out by Dunn, his wife, Lori, and his son and daughter. Sadly, there isn’t very much wine, for Dunn Vineyards produces less than 5,000 cases per year.    In 1978, when Randy purchased five acres of abandoned old vines on Howell Mountain, it may have looked like new territory for Napa Valley viticulture. After all, most of the local community belonged to the non-drinking Seventh-Day Adventist Church. But in the 1890s, Howell Mountain had more vineyard in the than even today, and a “La Jota Red” made by the Liparita Winery won the gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1899. At the core of Dunn’s Cabernets is the unique terroir of the Howell Mountain. The vineyards in this AVA begin just above the fog line at 1400 feet (400 meters), and average temperatures are cooler (because of the high elevation and afternoon winds) than the valley below. On the other hand, summer mornings are sunny and evenings pleasantly warm. The soils, consisting of compressed, white volcanic ash as well as volcanic loam and red clay, retain little water. The grapes are “stressed” into producing tight clusters of berries with thick skins that yield rich tannins. Full bodied red wines, principally Cabernet and Merlot, are the main produce of Howell Mountain vineyards. Some vintners work with Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, and a small number try their hand at Chardonnay and Viognier. Randy Dunn may appreciate the effort to diversify, but he sticks with what he knows best: Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wines from this Winery

2014 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2014 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Fans of Randy Dunn’s Cabs know that the Napa Valley bottling usually contains enough Howell Mountain fruit to be considered a window into the estate wine. In recent years, Coombsville has become the preferred source of the Napa Valley fruit and accounts for about half of the blend in 2014. Coombsville features rolling benchlands, volcanic and gravelly soils, a cool climate and a long growing season. The excellent 2014 vintage produced a wine that both meets our expectations and astonishes us, for here’s a Cab that’s rich and dense yet soft enough to be one the most approachable Dunn wines ever. Try a bottle now and wrap yourself in scents of cherry, cassis, cocoa and flavors of dark berries, herbs and spice. But those who cellar will be amply rewarded. 

Details
¥ 14,400
2008 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. “The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley is simply extraordinary. Layers of dark fruit, flowers, licorice, spices and mint are beautifully woven together. With time in the glass the wine's striking inner perfume takes center stage. Tar, smoke, flowers, red berries and licorice are some of the nuances that reappear on the finish, while gorgeous aromatics are laced throughout. I could go on. Let me make it simple: this is a flat-out great bottle of wine from Randy Dunn. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2033. I tasted a large number of wines with Randy Dunn this year. These are some of the most powerful, age worthy Cabernets being made in Napa Valley today. (12/2011)”

Details
¥ 19,800
2007 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. “The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley is one of the very finest young wines I have ever tasted from Randy Dunn. Layers of dark red fruit, blackberries, flowers, mint and licorice emerge from this seamless, large-scaled wine. This is a rich, opulent 2007 that never abandons its traditional sense of structure. All of the aromas and flavors build beautifully towards the immensely rewarding, intense, seductive finish. This is a dazzling showing from Randy Dunn. The 2007 is atypically open today. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2027. (12/2011)”

91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar. “Bright, deep ruby-red. Reticent aromas of cassis, dark raspberry, leather, fresh blood and pepper (my first sample showed a whiff of adhesive tape). Supple on entry, then a bit peppery and dry in the middle; has texture and flavor intensity but this is very backward and unyielding for this cuvee. Finishes with drying, rather clenched tannins but no heaviness. This will require patience, but it's unlikely to develop the personality or sweetness of the Howell Mountain bottling. (5/2011)”

Details
¥ 19,800
2006 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. “The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley is quite a bit richer than the 2005 tasted alongside it. The 2006 shows gorgeous depth as it opens up in the glass. Dark fruit, licorice, smoke and tar are some of the notes that flesh out in this broad-shouldered Cabernet Sauvignon. A creamy, textured finish rounds things out in style. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2026. (12/2011)”

91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar. “Deep medium ruby. Sexy, inviting aromas of dark berries, licorice pastille, spicecake and leather. Densely packed but light on its feet, with good sweetness and breadth to the black fruit flavors. Distinctly round for a young cabernet from this producer. The broad finish features sweet, dusty tannins and excellent length. (5/2010)”

Details
¥ 19,800
2005 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2005 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2005 Napa Valley is an exceptional wine, structured, concentrated and nowhere near the end of its life. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate awarded it 92 points and noted, “The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley is gorgeous. It is a soft, caressing wine laced with expressive dark fruit, blackberries, spices, leather and flowers, all of which come together beautifully in the glass. This is a surprisingly soft, open young wine with lovely inner perfume and a mid-weight structure that makes it approachable, even today. It is a great starting point for readers who are new to the Dunn wines. (12/2011)” Stephen Tanzer called it “Nicely suave Cabernet with a firm edge of acidity and ripe, building tannins. (5/2009)”

Details
¥ 19,800
2003 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2003 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

HOTEI LIBRARY RELEASE SOURCED DIRECTLY FROM THE WINERY. Parker "The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa, which all comes from Howell Mountain, possesses deep, dark, primordial, blackberry and cassis fruit intermixed with notes of flowers and minerals. It is impressively built, rich, and intense with the gorgeous fruit purity evident in all the Dunn Cabernets. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2020+. RP90-92"

Details
¥ 19,800
2014 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

2014 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Rich, earthy, firm and age-worthy, Dunn’s venerable Howell Mountain Cabs are the product of vineyards planted in nutrient-poor, well-drained, volcanic soils. The balance of fruit, acidity and substantial tannins makes for a wine that can provide pleasure for decades. On the other hand, recent vintages, made under the leadership of the son, Mike Dunn, appear slightly softer and more approachable. As noted by Antonio Galloni, “The 2014 has all the Dunn signatures in its flavor profile, but in the mid-weight style of the year. This is an especially restrained, young wine for Dunn with far less of the tannic heft that readers familiar with these wines are likely to expect.” If you do choose to open a bottle sooner than later, be sure to decant for a couple hours before serving. 

Details
¥ 20,800