Jesse and I had the great pleasure of indulging in this supreme California Cab last Saturday at our classy (19th century wild west style) wine bar of choice. We were already knee deep in the Staff Picks Tasting XXIV and due to Steve’s regular and copious extra pours we were drifting onto topics ill suited for our surroundings and company (the proper dosages of common prescription medication, the problem with the modern woman, how much of a certain mind altering prescription medication is necessary to void the distress caused by the modern woman and other male oriented musings). In an effort to stay the course and get us back on track I suggested that we reorient the conversation onto something a little more wine inspired. “Steve! Let’s talk about really good California cabs.” (I should also mention that our bar-neighbor Mike was ruminating on the pleasures and joys brought on by the great Bordeaux he was drinking and I was getting downright jealous) We needed to fight back with local flair. Steve walked over to the rack and came back with the O’Shaughnessy ’04 Howell Mountain Cab. He explained that in his opinion it was the best bottle on the rack and truly exemplified the simplicity and big fruit nature that was cherished in great California cabs. We were intrigued. At 76 bucks a bottle this was no cheap experiment. But I will tell you that it was worth it. The Howell Mountain is actually a blend composed of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 2% Carmenere, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% St. Macaire. The nose was quite floral with some light smoke and berry aromas. On the pallet we found a very strong red berry flavoring with some hints of vanilla, sandalwood and spice. This wine was particularly light on oak and tannins and maintained a nice simple structure throughout. The wine closed with a lovely (and long) finish that reminded us that structure isn’t just about tannins but about the general balance of the wine. Acidity played a major role here. For us, this wine really exemplified the power of simplicity in a good California Cab. It was a delight to experience and enjoy. JMP:93 pts
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