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

2013 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Fans of Randy Dunn’s Cabs know that the Napa Valley bottling is made with around 85% Howell Mountain fruit. They also know that it can be enjoyed with less cellar time than the more austere 100% Howell Mountain. In recent years, Coombsville has become the preferred source of the Napa Valley fruit. Coombsville features rolling benchlands, volcanic and gravelly soils, a cool climate and a long growing season. The fantastic 2013 vintage produced a wine that’s dense and rich, with layers of dark fruit to smooth out the tannins. This is a big wine of incredible complexity and balance that will add pleasure and meaning to a special occasion - whether enjoyed young or cellared for a decade or more.

Details
¥ 14,400
2002 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2002 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2002 vintage in Napa Valley was characterized by a long, mostly mild growing season, followed by warm weather near the end of September that pushed ripening forward and concentrated fruit flavors. After 13 years of aging, Dunn’s Napa Valley remains bright and lively, intriguing the taster with both “young wine” aromatics and a developing bouquet: black cherry, cassis and baking spices together with mocha, lead pencil and slate. The wine has excellent balance: pleasant acidity and integrated tannins linger in the finish along with subtle notes of dried fruit and French herbs. 

Details
¥ 19,800
2000 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

2000 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2000 vintage in Napa Valley, one of midsummer heatwaves and October rains, was not considered top-notch at the time; yet these very conditions may have endowed the wine with staying power and the ability to mature gracefully. In its youth, the 2000 Howell Mountain was noted for “heavy levels of concentration and richness of color,” aromas of “ripe forest berries, rich blackcurrant, rose petals… supported by savory flavors of ripe tomato, black olives and fresh blood.” It was also considered to be a little high in acidity, tannin and astringency. Today, this wine is as mellow and graceful as mature Bordeaux. The tannins have softened, and it’s showing plenty of herbs and spice, mushrooms, cassis, cherry and dried fruit flavors. Earthiness has given over to minerality. The mouthfeel is pleasant and it has great length. A mature and carefully-aged Dunn wine is rare treat!

Details
¥ 23,000