Hundred Acre Ark Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (1.5L Magnum) 2005
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Another extraordinary wine is the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Ark Vineyard from Howell Mountain. Woodbridge has always been extraordinarily high on this vineyard. The 2005 Ark, which The Wine Advocate also presented in London at our Master Class (and it blew many a British taster away) is incredibly youthful and tastes more like it’s two to three years old rather than ten. It has an extraordinary nose of blueberry, mulberry and blackberry fruit mixed with acacia floral notes, lead pencil shavings (seen to be often a characteristic of Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignons) and a full-bodied, multilayered mouthfeel with no sense of heaviness. The fresh acids, the ripe, well-integrated tannin, and stunning concentration are just magnificent. The scary thing about the 2005 Ark Vineyard is that it tastes as if it still has a ways to go – and could even get better! Drink it over the next 20-25 years.
"One of California’s (perhaps the world’s) most flamboyant, talented, contrarian wine producers is Napa Valley’s Jayson Woodbridge, the owner of Hundred Acre winery. Woodbridge has been running in high gear since his debut 2000. His 100% Cabernet Sauvignons are made primarily by him, with some consulting advice from Philippe Melka. His first effort was from his home vineyard, Kayli Morgan, which is situated east of St. Helena. That offering was followed by a Cabernet from the 15 acre Ark Vineyard on Howell Mountain. Woodbridge recently purchased a tiny, well-situated hillside parcel above the Eisele Vineyard, southeast of Calistoga. His special projects include the Cabernet Sauvignon Precious (in issue #174 I mistakenly called it “Previous”), a wine harvested grape by grape rather than bunch by bunch, and his Cabernet Sauvignon Deep Time, which sees extended oak aging (36-42 months). All things considered, this is an extraordinary group of wines. They are not easy to secure unless you are on Hundred Acre’s mailing list, but they are truly profound offerings that showcase a variety of Napa Valley terroirs as well as different harvesting and barrel aging techniques. The newest enterprise is the Dark Matter Zinfandel, a Zinfandel that is pushed to the limits of ripeness from the high elevations of Howell Mountain. The most common characteristic among all of the Hundred Acre Cabernet Sauvignons is their incredibly opulent, creamy textures. That character vindicates Woodbridge’s harvesting decisions as he seems to achieve extraordinarily sweet, noble tannins in all of his wines. There are approximately 250 cases of Jayson Woodbridge’s special projects, including the Precious and Deep Time cuvees."
-Wine Adocate, Robert Parker
Winemaking in Howell Mountain was abandoned during Prohibition, and wasn’t reawakened until the arrival of Randy Dunn, a talented winemaker famous for the success of Caymus in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early eighties, he set his sights on the Napa hills and subsequently astonished the wine world with a Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Shortly thereafter Howell Mountain became officially recognized as the first sub-region of Napa Valley (1983).
With vineyards at 1,400 to 2,000 feet in elevation, they predominantly sit above the fog line but the days in Howell Mountain remain cooler than those in the heart of the valley, giving the grapes a bit more time on the vine.
The Howell Mountain AVA includes 1,000 acres of vineyards interspersed by forestlands in the Vaca Mountains. The soils, shallow and infertile with good drainage, are volcanic ash and red clay and produce highly concentrated berries with thick skins. The resulting wines are full of structure and potential to age.
A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys success all over the globe, its best examples showing potential to age beautifully for decades. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in Bordeaux's Medoc where it is often blended with Merlot and smaller amounts of some combination of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. In the Napa Valley, ‘Cab’ is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious, age-worthy and sought-after “cult” wines. Somm Secret—DNA profiling in 1997 revealed that Cabernet Sauvignon was born from a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc in 17th century southwest France.