This year Howell Mountain Vineyards, in response to consumer demand, sought out mature Zinfandel vineyards in Napa Valley to blend with its Beatty Ranch and Black Sears Vineyard fruit. Renamed Bear & Lion, after the black bear and mountain lion that appear on the label (and sometimes in the vineyards), this Old Vine bottling combines the best characteristics of mountain fruit and grapes from lowland terraces.
The wine itself is a brilliant medium ruby. Ripe, meaty and dark, it is the most intense Old Vine in years. Scents of cherry, spiced plum and clarified butter are supported by a deeper core of jammy fruit. On the palate, the wine is rich and concentrated, with chocolate and chestnut flavors and a long, smooth textured finish. It's wonderful now, but will continue to gain complexity in the bottle.