97 Insider Points
This is hands down the best wine I’ve sourced all year. The sappy pine note indicative of Howell Mountain really shines through on this wine, and that’s just the beginning. I could wax poetic about this wine, and the appellation, and the producer! This is from the original La Jota Cabernet vineyard site and the quality has not changed. Black cherry, plum and dark chocolate swirl together on the nose, with a dusting of menthol and fresh pine. The palate is sultry and smooth, showing all the classic Napa notes, but better, and really this wine is about nuance and complexity. Dusty tannin, creamy cocoa, cola nut, graphite, lush mid-palate and plush tannin on the finish, you can’t beat it. Do not miss this one. Enjoy now through 2025. - DZ Apr, 2015
Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
Single Vineyard, Howell Mountain estate Cab from highly-rated producer in one of Napa’s top AVA’s!
A killer Cab from Bill Smith (founder and longtime winemaker for La Jota) sourced from his estate vineyard Piedra Hill (located high above the fog-line at 1700 ft over the northeastern tip of the Napa Valley), the 2011 W H Smith Piedra Hill Bronze Label is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon with wild berry, spicy oak and fabulous herbal notes. Plush, soft tannins make this particularly drinkable.
Not yet professionally rated (although previous vintages score highly with 90+ ratings in W&S and WE) invino’s Tasting Panel has been swooning over this brambly, rich and soft Howell Mountain Cab.
Things to Know:
The Piedra Hill Vineyard was planted in 1998, and vines are densely spaced, much as they are in Bill’s beloved Bordeaux. The soils are tuff - a very hard rock made of compacted ash from volcanoes that shaped the Napa Valley millions of years ago. This sparse soil stresses the vine and contributes to the famed concentration found in fruit from this esteemed appellation.
Howell Mountain AVA is defined by elevation with vineyards between 1400 ft and 2200 ft qualifying. The very sunny days are moderated by the extremely cold nighttime temps, and grapes from this region are famed for their high acidity and big structure.
Bill Smith bought the Howell Mountain La Jota property in the early 70s, and made the wines there until selling in 2001 to Markham. A short move to the nearby Piedra Hill property followed and construction of the winery, where Smith takes steps to ensure no harsh tannins occur in his wines, by removing the astringent seeds.
The warm and inviting aroma of fig and berry combine with an essence of sea spray which is characteristic of the fruit’s influence from the Pacific Ocean. On the palate these wonderful aromas are balanced by notes of caramel, cedar and plum.
Over forty years ago Bill Smith wondered up a windy road on the Vaca Mountain range and stopped in front of a beautiful old ghost winery, La Jota Vineyard Co. Falling for the beauty of the now famed Howell Mountain in its rugged youth was quick and swift. With his new bride, Joan, they began their wine oddessey.
At first it was a dream hobby come true, stomping grapes and hand bottling with family and friends. Before long Bill and Joan yearned for more. At first a humble beginning, a 2 acre vineyard planted by hand with their motley crew of reluctant kids, luckily together they had 6 children and you could often find a few of them out in the vineyard trying to earn a few dollars!
In 1982, our first official vintage was produced. One year later our own Bill Smith spearheaded mapping the boundaries and filing to the establishment the Howell Mountain Appelation. A vision and dream of both Bill and Joan had come to fruition and it was only the beginning for this Howell Mountain pioneer.
Bolstered by success with the revival of La Jota Vineyard Company, Bill decided against resting on laurels, he took what he had learned and push further. Beyond La Jota, at the very end of the road and as far as one can go, Bill and Joan built a new home with a view that showcases our own piece of paradise: that "top of the world" Howell Mountain is known for and as we say, "the edge of the paradise."
In adition to their new home, La Jota Vineyard Co. was sold and a brand new vineyard was planted, caves were escavated and a new crush pad was erected. It was all that had been developing in Bill's mind. Ever onward, the story continues.
Try this with braised stews, grilled meat or charcuterie, or a roaring fire and a good book all pair well with this elegant cab.