La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1990
Several million years ago the volcano known as Mount Konocti deposited volcanic ash throughout Napa Valley. Howell Mountain itself is a weathered volcanic "knob" with two distinct soils: crumbly white decomposed volcanic ash known as rhyolitic tuff and red, iron-laden soils of clay and volcanic rock.
Both soil types exist on our La Jota estate, often covered by forest loam. Vines develop good root systems in these well-draining, porous, nutrient-lean soils, allows them to self-regulate the amount of water they take in. And because the soils are nutrient lean, the vines have to struggle to survive, a struggle that causes them to send their energy to the fruit that holds the seeds that will ensure another generation. This results in tiny berries and clusters with very high flavor concentration.
La Jota wines are handcrafted at our original 1898 fieldstone winery and hillside cave. From the low yielding vines of 28 mountain acres, they produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and our crown jewel, the annual Heritage Release Cabernet Sauvignon (formerly the Anniversary Release).
While growing grapes in the nutrient-lean, volcanic soils of the La Jota estate is a challenge, the rewards are undeniable. Highly concentrated flavors and muscular tannins slowly mature to perfection, while the cool winds, diurnal temperature swings and high altitude keep the grape acids impeccably balanced, revealing the distinctive voice of our estate.
Viticulturist, Mariano Navarro, and winemaker, Christopher Carpenter, understand the meticulous requirements of mountain farming and mountain winemaking. Their goal is to gently tame tannins while allowing the intriguing mineral, spice and sweet forest loam characters unique to our estate to enhance the complexity of our opulent fruit.
The result? La Jota wines offer elegance and cellar worthiness.
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. Inherently high in tannins and acidity, the best bottlings of Cabernet can age beautifully for decades. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in temperate climates like Bordeaux where it forms the base of the Medoc reds. These blends are typically mostly Cabernet with Merlot and smaller amounts of some combination of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. (Enjoying a great deal of success in various regions around the world, this blend is now globally referred to as a Bordeaux Blend.) Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious, age-worthy and sought-after “cult” wines.
Tasting Notes for Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is a dry red wine rich in color, tannin and extract. It expresses notes of blackberry, cassis, plum, currant, spice and tobacco. In the Old World you'll often find the more earthy side of Cabernet. In warmer regions like California, Washington, Argentina, Chile and Australia, you can typically expect more upfront fruit flavors.
Perfect Food Pairings for Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is right at home with rich, intense meat dishes—beef, lamb and venison, in particular—where its opulent fruit and decisive tannins make an equal match to the dense protein of the meat. With a mature Cabernet, opt for tender, slow-cooked meat dishes.
Sommelier Secrets for Cabernet Sauvignon
Despite the modern importance and ubiquity of Cabernet Sauvignon, it is actually a relatively young variety. In 1997, DNA profiling revealed the grape to be a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which took place in 17th century southwestern France.