Goosecross Cellars Napa Valley Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Specialty producer Goosecross has given us 825 cases of this splendid $64 Cabernet
Sauvignon from Howell Mountain in Napa. Understandably the wine is not easy to find at
your corner shop, since Goosecross sells much of its wine directly to consumers at its winery
in Yountville and at its satellite store in Napa Town Center, where it also retails the wines of
several other Napa producers.
It goes without saying that a wine of this quality is worth the trip. The wine was aged in French oak for 18 months before its 2005 release and the two year bottle aging period has already done its work. A deep ruby, almost opaque except for some lighter purple edges, the unblended Cabernet comes through with aromatic notes of blackberry and cassis (as is expected of Cabernet), with a little alcoholic heat (the abv. is 14.4%).
The palate gives much more than the nose. You would expect a little too much tannin and a little too much oak at this point, but the tannins are superbly kind and soft, the oak absolutely sweet. Blackberry and black cherry lead on the palate, but this is no fruit bomb; it has significant kernel attributes, including chocolate, mocha and, rare in my experience, sweet walnut. Tobacco box, rosemary and baking spices (vanilla and nutmeg) round it all out.
The finish on this wine is long and punctuated by two key notes that work so very well
together: chocolate and ripe black cherry. With all its character, extraction, deep fruit and
directed acidity, the wine is exceptionally smooth.
Verdict: Seek it out
California moves on; the land itself pushes through every human force.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman