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.
Howell Mountain Vineyards
Started in 1988 by two prominent Howell Mountain vineyard owners, Howell Mountain Vineyards and its wines has been an integral part of the emergence and development of this AVA in the wine industry. Today, led by Mike Beatty, grower of the famed Beatty Ranch, Howell Mountain Vineyards continues its focus on quality in the vineyards while embracing bioharmonic principles.
Howell Mountain Vineyards use of classic viticulture practices allows us to fully embrace the unique terroir of this AVA, as showcased in our wines. With a "boots-on-the-ground" approach to grape growing alongside loving, personal attention, our vines are monitored daily to produce definitively premium Howell Mountain grapes. By using old-world, minimal intervention winemaking methods, we maintain the integrity of the fruit, showcasing the unique characteristics of this distinctive appellation.
Winemaker, Bryan Kane, crafts a select handful of Howell Mountain Vineyards wines, including Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon for which Howell Mountain is best known. The source of the Zinfandel comes from vines that were planted at the turn of the 20th century, while the Cabernet Sauvignon vines are over 40 years old. Both the Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon vines are some of the oldest of their kind on the mountain producing exceptional old vine Howell Mountain wines.
View all Howell Mountain Vineyards Wines
It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just granted an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
I wrote an earlier review *loving* this wine. I then bought 6 bottles, and 2 so far have been corked! I guess that's why it was on sale... I'd still recommend the wine. Just be aware you may get a bad bottle.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.