Clark Claudon Napa Cabernet 2004
For a quiet evening at home, watching a pre-recorded showing of 'The Voice' from earlier in the week, we opened an old favorite wine from our extensive collection from this favorite producer, with a selection of cheeses and sourdough bread.
Here following is a updated re-post of earlier posting about this wine and this producer.
The producer, Clark-Claudon estate is situated on the ‘backside’ of Howell Mountain in an area known as Pope Valley. We have fun with this label as fellow Pour Boy Bill and Beth C's maiden name is Pope. Clark-Claudon's 17 acres of vineyards are carved out of a 117 acre property located on the north east side of Howell Mountain between Ink Grade and Howell Mountain Road, from 800 ft to 1,200 ft elevation. It’s shallow, mountain soils, cool evening breezes and excellent sun exposure are ideal for a low yield of small, intense Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot grapes. The 17 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon are planted with clone 7 which grows well in hillside rocky soil and produces small berries with concentrated flavors. A small vineyard block is planted to Petite Verdot. After completing their initial vineyard planting, Clark decided to leave the remaining 100 acres of forests, creeks, meadows and ponds in their natural state which serves as a preserve for native birds and wildlife.
Interesting, following my discussions in recent blogpost
about the terroir and appellation specificity line of demarcation being
at the 1200 foot elevation level to differentiate between Howell
Mountain and Napa Valley designation, we have another such-situated
Napa/Howell Mountain Cabernet. Similar to the Viader Napa Valley Cabernet Red Blend from earlier tastings, and the Blue Hall Vineyard Camiana Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon that we drank the other night, this Clark Claudon Napa Cab vineyard is at
1000 foot elevation on the lower reaches of Howell Mountain. That
terroir distinction doesn't apply here as the Clark Claudon property is
on the backside of Howell Mountain which never sees the fog that is
experienced on the Napa Valley side of the hill.
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 variously on my winesite http://www.unwindwine.com. 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, several dating back to those early release vintages.
We love the distinctive unique Clark-Claudon packaging with the tall slender bottles. An interesting and trivial wine-geek's observation about the Clark-Claudon branding and packaging; as mentioned, we hold close to a score of vintages of this label.
All our vintage holdings but this
one, the 2004 release, are packaged with the wax cap inside the rim of
the bottle, topping the cork, as shown left. This one, 2004, has a
'traditional' foil top of the bottle (shown below). Not sure why?
This release was awarded 93 points from Wine Enthusiast who wrote, " ... it really needs time. Give it until after 2008, if you can keep your hands off, and will come into its own after 2010."
A decade later, going on seventeen
years, this release is holding its own very nicely and showing no signs
of diminution whatsoever. The fill level, label and most importantly the
cork were in perfect condition.
Tonight's tasting was consistent with previous tastings in 2015, 2016 and most recently in the Spring of 2021. In 2016 I wrote it was more expressive than earlier tastings. I sense this is at its peak, not likely to improve further, but grand and capable of aging several more years none-the-less.
At nineteen years, the fill level, label, foil and most importantly the cork were all still in pristine condition.
Like before, the room filled with dark berry fruit aromatics as soon the cork was pulled. This was dark garnet colored, rich, full, concentrated, but nicely integrated and elegant black berry and black currant fruits with accents of cassis, mocha, floral and notes of spicy oak and hints of black cherry on a lingering fine-grained silky tannin finish.
RM 92 points.
In seeking to replenish this bottle with a more recent vintage of this wine, I looked in distribution and found none in Chicagoland, but got this response when searching national beverage superstore Total Wine - "We could not find this item at Pensacola, FL (our select store), But we found it at Denver, CO." We'll be reaching back to the producer directly, as well as looking in the secondary market.
Earlier tasting posts ...