Saturday, May 7, 2016

Clark Claudon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Clark Claudon Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

For Mother's Day eve dinner, we took Clark Claudon Napa Cab BYOB to Wildwood Restaurant in Geneva with John and Kath McM... Wildwood has a Wine Spectator Award winning winelist for five years running with a broad selection of choices that include many favorites, several at good value prices. Still, the rewards of a deep cellar are to enjoy favorite wines at their prime on such occasions, aside sourcing a second wine from the list. Clark Claudon was a fitting selection for Mother's Day given their strong family centered wine business.

As I've written before in this blog about this wine, we've been collecting this Howell Mountain classic since our Napa Valley Wine Experience 1999 when we first met Tom Clark and Laurie Claudon-Clark and hosted them at one of our wine producer dinners.

Clark Claudon are located halfway up Howell Mountain, the northeastern pillar of the dual ranges that make Napa Valley. The mountain fruit produced from the steep terraces, rocky soil and warm dry climate is full, rich, concentrated and firm, our favorite style in a Cabernet. 

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. Vineyards above 1200 feet elevation are designated Howell Mountain appellation, while those below 1200 ft are designated Napa Valley. This is because the fog level rises up to that level thereby establishing two different terroir effects above and below that point. 

Clark-Claudon 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.

The 2004 Napa growing season was condensed with early bud break, warm days, cool nights and one challenging heat spike. The result was a small harvest of intense, flavor packed fruit from an unusual, but exceptional year that is showing and drinking well and should last another decade.

Deep dark ruby colored - full bodied - explosive aromas of ripe dark berry fruits fill the room as the wine is being decanted, big mouth-full of forward complex but polished spicy black and edge of red berry fruits, violets, layers of mocha and oak with a long lingering tannin finish.

RM 92 points.

During our Napa Wine Experience visits of 1997 through 2000 we hosted gala tasting dinners with the 'Undisccovered Dozen', emerging new wine producers to watch, featured in an article in Wine Spectator Magazine. Many of these producers released their inaugural vintage releases in or about the 1994 vintage. Those producers and winery visits included Plumpjack, David Arthur, Clark-Claudon, Robert Craig, Del Dotto, Elan, Paradigm, Pride Vineyards, Snowden, Nils Venge and White Cottage and are featured on my winesite An complete index of my tasting notes of these wines over the years is on the site at this link to California Producers Index. These producers make up a foundation of our wine cellar collection even today. In many of these wines, we still have vertical selections of these wines, some dating back to those early release vintages.