High End Red Wine Club
High End Red - February
This month we present wines from Randy Dunn. Your allocation is for one bottle of either Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 or Dunn Napa Cabernet 2007 or 2008.
Randy Dunn is a legend in California winemaking - one of the world’s most celebrated makers of extraordinary Cabernet Sauvignons.
Dunn established his reputation at Caymus Winery from 1975 to 1985, where his Cabernet Sauvignons became the benchmark for the industry. In addition, his artistry shaped other premium wineries that now enjoy an acclaimed place in the sun (Pahlmeyer, Livingston, La Jota and others). Since 1979, Dunn has produced roughly 4,000 cases a year of his Dunn Vineyards Cabernets.
Randy is known not only for his famous wines, but for his philosophy on how to make wine. He does it his way - leaving the floor of the Napa Valley “to corn and melon farmers,” he tends his vines in the red stony soil of Howell Mountain. There are no road signs; no retail sales. And don’t look for him in a winery tour guide. No time for that, as Randy spends his quiet hours making his wonderful heirloom wines.
Randy lives with his wife, Lori, next to the winery on Howell Mountain.
Dunn Vineyards produces two labels, Howell Mountain and Napa Valley. Both wines are one hundred percent cabernet sauvignon. They produce around 2500 cases of Howell Mountain and about 1500 cases of Napa Valley. The Howell Mountain wines consist of one hundred percent Howell Mountain fruit. The Napa Valley wines include up to 15% Napa Valley floor fruit with the remainder of the fruit coming from Howell Mountain. This floor fruit contributes to the wine's softer approach, even though the wines usually can be laid down for 15+ years.
The bottles differ in two ways. The Napa Valley has a foil seal, whereas the Howell Mountain has been hand dipped in red wax. The Howell Mountain wine label reads both the sub appellation- Howell Mountain as well as the appellation Napa Valley. The Napa Valley label only reads Napa Valley. The Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is usually more approachable at a younger age with it’s softer tannins. Whereas, the Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is massive in fruit and tannins.
Dunn remains one of California's superstar Cabernet Sauvignon producers, yet it is interesting to note that many other top producers appear to be getting more integrated tannin and bottle bouquet at an earlier age. With Dunn's wines, it is just a question of waiting 15 or more years for the bottle bouquet to develop. Having closely followed Dunn's Cabernet Sauvignons since the debut 1979 vintage, it is remarkable how consistent these wines have been. Dunn's great early successes, especially the 1982s, were followed by a succession of rich, tannic wines in 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1987, two tough years in 1988 and 1989, and, as with most northern California wineries, an unprecedented run of great years starting in 1990. The wines are always impressive for their strength, massive body, and highly extracted blackcurrant fruit. Dunn, who believes in filtering but not fining, tends to use the former technique as a way of bringing a measure of refinement to the brute strength and power his wines possess. It is too early to say, but if there is any weakness to Dunn's Cabernets it would be the surprising lack of bottle bouquet. Dunn vehemently believes that filtration has nothing to do with this, and that it is only a matter of time before his Cabernets exhibit more aromatic evolution.
Dunn Napa 2007 95 points, Antonio Gallioni, 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.
Dunn Napa 2008 96 points, Antonio Gallioni, 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."
Dunn Howell 2007 97 Points , Antonio Gallioni, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: " The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain is unlike any wine I have ever tasted from Dunn. Layer after layer of flavor saturates the palate in this opulent, full-throttle Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2007 possesses dazzling textural richness, depth and sheer intensity. Purists may prefer more structured vintages, but for a producer known for such slow maturing wines, the 2007 is a huge pleasure to taste today. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2037."
Gallioni: "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. Dunn is very much an iconoclast who follows his own convictions. Picking is a bit earlier here than elsewhere throughout the valley. Dunn isn’t too concerned if stems occasionally make it into the fermenter. A fervent advocate of lower-alcohol wines, Dunn makes no apologies for removing alcohol from his wines if they come in above 14%. Personally, that strikes me as a totally unnecessary intervention, but it’s hard to argue with the quality of what is in the bottle, and ultimately that is what counts most. The Napa Valley bottling includes purchased fruit from the valley floor and is typically a slightly more accessible wine, while the Howell Mountain is a much tougher wine that typically demands 20 years to enter its early peak. These Cabernets are for the patient, but make no mistake about it, in top vintages the Howell Mountain is one of the great wines, not just of California, but of the world. Readers who want to explore these wines without waiting several decades may want to start with the 2005 or 2007 Napa Valley bottlings, both of which are somewhat accessible at this stage."
High End Red - November
This month we present two iconic red wine blends, one from California and one from South Africa. Your allocation is for one bottle of either
- Keever Inspirado Red Blend 2008 or Keermont Red 2007
We have enough on hand so that you may purchase one of each.
Keermont Red Blend "A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Shiraz, the 2007 Keermont has a lifted bouquet of mulberry, blackberry, white pepper and a touch of iodine. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grainy tannins and a dash of white pepper. It is very elegant and displays wonderful tension towards the fresh, shimmering finish. This is drinking beautifully now but should age well over 4-5 years."
- Neil Martin, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 92pts
Keever Inspirado Red Blend Made by superstar winemaker Celia Welch (Corra, Scarecrow, Winemaker of the Year 2008 Food & Wine Magazine). A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Not made every yearevery year, only 234 cases produced.
Inspirado has lovely, elegant aromas of baked cherries, mocha, dark chocolate, cinnamon bark, and just a faint waft of floral perfume fill the glass at first pour. As the wine opens, a touch of vanilla, cedar, and bay leaf slowly add dimension to the aromatic profile on this enticing blend. On the palate, the texture is soft and full at entry, with fruit-forward flavors. The long lingering finish of cherries/ cherry jam, warm raspberries on the vine, and a touch of vanilla beckon the taster to take another sip.
Keever Vineyards is nestled in the western slopes of Yountville, California in the Napa Valley. It is a family-owned and operated winery, producing exquisite Cabernet Sauvignon from the family’s six acres of rocky, hillside vineyards.
Keermont Vineyards is a farm located in a small box canyon/valley outside of Stellenbosch, South Africa. The name comes from Keerweder, which is the name of the former farm. A keerweder is a dead end in a valley - it literally translates to ‘blocked again’, as the early settlers were blocked by the terrain when they tried to pass through the valley. Winery and vineyards are located in the shadow of Guardian Peak (official name is Suurberg).
The mountain fruit here is similar to the grapes grown at the Howell Mountain AVA in Napa Valley.
High End Red - September
This month, we're pleased to present two great wines: 2007 Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain and 2007 Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder
Your allocation is for one bottle of either bottling, but we have enough on hand so that you can buy one of each.
Mt Veeder: Varietal Composition: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot 3% Malbec
When Robert Craig first came to Napa Valley in the late 1970’s, he headed to Mt. Veeder in the southwestern Mayacamas range. There he spent the next 12 years learning about mountain vineyards and came to regard Mt. Veeder one of the premiere Appellations for world-class Cabernet Sauvignons. His first Mt. Veeder Cabernet was made in 1993. Fifteen vintages later, the 2008 offering is the true expression of a mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, brimming with deep black fruit and balanced by round, supple tannins and bright acidity that offer the structure for long-term aging.
High End Red - October
This month we present a wonderful red wine from Italy, made from the Carmenère grape: Inama Oratorio di San Lorenzo IGT 2004.
Your Allocation is for one bottle.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 93 points "The 2004 Oratorio di San Lorenzo is deeply impressive. Layers of dark cherries, plums, minerals, espresso and chocolate flow beautifully in this sumptuous, first-class red. Silky tannins convey an impression of finesse and elegance. Despite its notable depth, there is nothing overdone about the Oratorio di San Lorenzo. This is a first-class effort in every way. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2019."
Wine Spectator: 93 points "This shows loads of tarry currant fruit, with rosemary, sage, mineral and a twist of orange peel against a fresh, oaky background. Full- to medium-bodied, with fine, integrated tannins and a superclean finish of licorice. Needs a bit of time. An amazing Carmenère. Best after 2010. 500 cases made."
According to the Washington Post's Jason WIlson: "Inama's Carmenere has been so well received that the winery has invested heavily in planting new Carmenere vineyards. 'I see Carmenere from the Colli Berici DOC being elevated to the world stage,' winemaker Stefano Inama said in an e-mail. 'Some might say it is crazy, but that is what was said about Cabernet Sauvignon from Bolgheri and Sassicaia in the 1970s.'
For now, its Oratorio di San Lorenzo is in a class by itself, the finest 100 percent Carmenere that I've tasted. But its more affordable Carmenere Più (a blend of 75 percent Carmenere, 20 Merlot and 5 percent Raboso Veronese) is sold locally and i salso a winner."
High End Red Club - 8th Allocation
Lucky you! This month we present an iconic Washington red wine - a wine produced in miniscule quantities, that pundits and wine fans alike marvel at its depth, length and purity - 2006 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon.
I had to struggle to get enough wine for the club - there's a one bottle per person allocation. But I realize that the wine's expense might be a bit much for some - it's $175 per bottle before club discount - so we offer a wonderful, lower priced alternative: 2006 Côte Bonneville Carriage House du Brul Vineyard Red Wine
About Quicelda Creek: Quilceda Creek Vintners is a boutique winery in Snohomish, Washington specializing in premium Cabernet Sauvignon wine. The winery is named for a nearby creek in Snohomish County. Although the winery facility is located west of the Cascade Range, the winery sources all of its grapes from six vineyards in eastern Washington. Quilceda Creek Vintners has earned some of the highest reviews and awards of any winery in the United States. Quilceda Creek Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon is the only American wine from outside of California to earn perfect 100-point score reviews from wine critic Robert Parker in his publication The Wine Advocate.