You can’t talk about a DUNN Howell Mountain Cab without talking about structure. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, now that’s a structure that fills you with awe at its majesty. New York City’s Empire State Building, it’s iconic and stands tall as a romantic vision of a city’s past. St. Louis’s Gateway Arch, it’s a marvel of construction and engineering. It’s a stretch, but these are attributes you could easily assign to the structure of the masterwork that is a Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon. First consider: what is a wine without structure? It’s flat, listless, unambitious, mundane, straightforward and crass. So, what does a wine with great structure taste like in the mouth? It’s one complexity that builds upon another. It’s something that stands firm on its foundation and reaches greater heights the longer it lingers on the palate. It’s a taste that you immediately recognize is not content to just be beautiful but yearns longingly to be an ecstatic experience.
The 2005 vintage of the Howell Mountain, now given ten years to age, is one of the great experiences in Napa Valley wine. It has a heart of darkness—with deep notes of cigar, espresso, dark cherry, black currant, cassis, black licorice, dark bitter chocolate and leather—but it possesses a poet’s spirit, most evident on the mid-palate with its wondrous viscosity, marvelous complexity and complete integration and balance. The wine’s smoothness is effortless. Relative to other Napa Cabs, this is far from bombastic but rather tranquil. But there’s no mistaking that the wine is a result of the winemaker’s vision of grandeur. Enjoy in awe, but by no means does it desire reverence. This is Cabernet Sauvignon that is earthbound but structured to reach for the skies. –J.M.
Great Wine: Krutz Family Cellars Magnolia Series Zinfandel