Vintage 2016
Wine Type Red
Varietal Merlot
Region Carneros
Winemaker Trevor Durling
The Maestro Collection showcases the unique limited production wines from distinctive vineyards. Howell Mountain is noted for its rolling hills, elevation and well-drained volcanic soils. the Merlot vines from these mountain top vineyards produce bunches of small, intensely concentrated fruit, and the resulting wine showcases the powerful flavors and great depth inherent of Howell Mountain. 

Tasting Notes

The 2016 Howell Mountain Merlot is a showstopper right out of the glass with a beautiful ruby-garnet color. Richly intense aromatics of raspberries, wild cherries, and plum pudding, please the nose, while underlying tones of bramble berry, warm baking spices and vanilla develop in the glass. On the palate, the opulent red fruits take on a more liqueur quality, and earthly flavors of tobacco, cedar and mocha are framed with soft and smooth tannins. The finish is long and pleasing, thanks to the refreshing acidity. This magnum can age and develop for a few years – decanting is recommended for those who want to enjoy this wine young.

Vineyard Note

In 1984, Howell Mountain became the first area within the Napa Valley appellation to be declared a separate viticultural area (AVA) for the distinct characteristics of its wine grapes and now it is home to several of Napa Valley’s most famous wines. This special bottling is sourced from Bancroft Ranch, located at an elevation of 1,800 feet on Howell Mountain, and known for producing clusters with small berries whose high skin-to-fruit ratio results in well-structured wines with concentrated flavors. The flavors are further enhanced by the climate: the vineyard is about five to 10 degrees cooler than the valley floor but experiences more hours of sunshine over the course of a day because it is above the fog belt. This allows for both extended hang time and slow, even flavor development.

Vintage Notes

The extended drought was beginning to cause real concern as the 2016 growing season kicked off, but some welcomed winter rain hinted at the relief to come. After a relatively dry January we enjoyed significant rainfall in February, along with mild temperatures. Bud break was early, but was slowed by heavy April showers. While still early by historical standards, picking began about a week later than 2015, right around Labor Day, and continued at a leisurely pace, allowing the grapes to reach full flavor maturity. A traditionally sized harvest followed the lighter showing of 2015, and the extended mild season helped to balance the acids and add complexity to the layers of flavors. Considered a perfect harvest and a winemaker’s dream vintage, conditions were perfect for producing a Cabernet with beautiful fruit as well as tremendous concentration of flavors, highly saturated color, and layers of complexity.

Winemaking Notes

To develop this wine’s complex fruit expression, we first cold soaked the destemmed grapes for gentle flavor extraction. During fermentation, regular pumpovers incorporate the flavor-rich skins into the juice. Malolactic fermentation, which naturally changes the malic acid into softer lactic acid, rounds the flavors. The wine was barrel aged in 70% new French oak for 20 months. 

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