O'Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Merlot 2004
O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery sits at 1,800 feet on the heralded Howell Mountain appellation in the beautiful Napa Valley. Founded in 1996, the estate encompasses one hundred and twenty acres. Winemaker Sean Capiaux has overseen the planting of the vineyard and selected numerous clones of Cabernet Sauvignon and all seven of the historic Bordeaux varietals for this unique property.
O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery uses modern equipment to produce non-interventionist wines that are naturally fermented and bottled unfined and unfiltered. These techniques allow the varietal character and terroir of O’Shaughnessy Estate vineyards to be the stars of the show.
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.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.