This weekend we have some friends and family traveling into Toronto for my wife's 30th birthday, and I thought I'd pull out something from the cellar to celebrate. So, this weekend, I'll be enjoying a 2001 Duckhorn Howell Mountain Merlot. Howell Mountain is an appellation in Napa Valley, in the north east corner in the Vaca Mountain range. It overlooks St. Helena if you're facing west. The soils here are volcanic in origin and the temperature is always a little warmer than the southern appellations due to its distance from San Pablo Bay, which cools the valley from the south. Because the vineyards are planted above the valley though, they are not as warm as in Calistoga.
I'm really looking forward to this wine. 2001 was an excellent vintage in Napa, and Duckhorn's Merlots age as well as any. In June 2011 Robert Parker wrote "The tannic, firm 2001 Merlot Howell Mountain displays a high elevation, cooler climate style. More crushed rock, new saddle leather and a distinct earthiness as well as harder tannins are present in this medium to full-bodied Merlot. It will benefit from another 2-3 years of cellaring and should drink well for 12-15+ years thereafter. With nine separate offerings, all performing exceptionally well, Duckhorn Vineyards must be thrilled with the evolution of their 2001s. This is a terrific performance for these Duckhorn wines with most of them showing better than they did upon release – always a great sign."
So by his notes I'm drinking this young, but at 11 years from the vintage, I think I'm in for something really exciting. I'll follow up with notes next week.
Have a great weekend,