2015 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

2015 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

¥24,750 (incl. tax)

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Rich, earthy, firm, and age-worthy, Dunn’s Howell Mountain Cabernet is produced from vineyards planted in well-drained but nutrient-poor volcanic soils that (in a dry year like 2015) yielded a mere one ton per acre. The balance of fruit, acidity and substantial tannins makes for a wine that can evolve for decades. On the other hand, recent vintages, made under the leadership of the son, Mike Dunn, appear slightly softer and more approachable. Jeb Dunnuck described the 2015 as “ much more up-front, sweetly fruited, sexy wine compared to the more brooding, Bordeaux-like 2014, although there’s no shortage of structure and tannins in this 2015… the fruit is beautifully pure, it has remarkable sweetness (ripeness, not residual sugar), great balance, and it’s just a singular wine in the lineup. It’s going to drink well for 30+ years.” If you do choose to open a bottle sooner than later, be sure to decant for a couple of hours before serving. 


Winery Description

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.

About this Wine

Country USA
Region California
Appellation(s) Napa Valley
Sub-Ava Howell Mountain
Winery Dunn
Vintage 2015
Color Red
Varietal(s) Cabernet Sauvignon
Closure Cork
Volume 750ml
Bottle Size 7.5 x 30.5
Case Size 33.5 x 25.5 x 31.0
Alcohol 13.9%
Product Code DN15HM

Owning & Enjoying

Tasting notes

96 points – Jeb Dunnuck; 95 points – Vinous/Antonio Galloni; 95 points – Wine Advocate; 95 points – Wine Spectator. 

On the nose, notes of blackcurrants and boysenberries, along with graphite, smoke, and sweet tobacco swirl from of the glass. The palate is full-bodied, with tannins offering a solid grip, but it is well-balanced and elegant, revealing layers of dark fruit, crème de cassis, and black licorice.



The wine was fermented in stainless steel and aged for 32 months in 100% new French oak barrels.

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