Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Clark Claudon Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Clark Claudon Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

We discovered Tom Clark and Laurie Clark-Claudon shortly after their inaugural release back in the early nineties. We hosted them as a featured wine producer at one our wine dinners back during our Napa Wine Experience 1999. We still hold a vertical collection in our cellar going back to the 1995 vintage. This 2004 release was drinking very nicely a couple years ago, at a young age, somewhat out of character with the normally long lived, slower to emerge, label.

Clark-Claudon typifies the Howell Mountain terroir of its heritage and origins. Their vineyard sits back on the north east side a bit more than half way up Howell Mountain between 800 ft and 1,000 ft elevation. They have 18 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and a bit of Petit Verdot vines, 'carved out', as they say, of their 117 acre hillside property.

The shallow, rocky, mountain soils, consistent sun exposure tempered by the cool evening breezes just about level with the fog line hovering over the valley below provide ideal conditions to produce intense extracted mountain fruit with that ,characteristic Howell Mountain spice and firm solid core of smooth tannins.

We hold several bottles of this vintage in both standard, half bottles and a few magnums. Tonight, I opened a 375 ml half bottle for casual sipping with a steak dinner. I raise this as it seemed to be less vibrant and expressive than earlier experience with this label. I will attribute that to the bottle size rather than the aging of the vintage. Only time, and further tasting experiences will tell if that is the case.
Deep dark purple - full bodied - big mouth-full of forward spicy black and edge of red berry fruits, violets, layers of mocha and oak with a long lingering tannin finish.

RM 91 points.