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Professional Ratings: 92 International Wine Cellar, 91 The Wine Advocate
Region: Napa Valley, California
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Other Info: Collectible Wines
Style: Big & Bold
Item no. 116960
This expression of cool Howell Mountain terroir comes from a selection of softer-textured Cabernet Sauvignon fruit. A small percentage of Merlot imparts plushness and broader tannins, while a dash of Petit Verdot from a small block near the winery adds intriguing spice character.
Good deep red-ruby. Black raspberry, cassis, tobacco, maple syrup, leather and game on the nose. Supple in the mouth, with very good intensity and texture and nicely integrated acidity. Oaky and sweet. Finishes with dusty tannins and notes of mint, leather and cigar smoke.
The 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Select revealed some rough tannin when I tasted it in October. While none of these wines is filtered, the Smiths did do a light egg white fining in an attempt to produce a more civilized style. The 1995 is deep, muscular, rich, and impressive, but it is in need of 5-6 years of cellaring. I suspect this wine will age effortlessly for another two decades. La Jota's two Cabernet Sauvignon cuvees are similar in quality. The Howell Mountain Select and Anniversary Release share dense, concentrated, full-bodied personalities with superlative levels of fruit and extract. The Anniversary cuvee usually has a bit more depth, ripeness, and overall potential, but that is not always easily discernable when they are young. Each wine will last - at the minimum - 20 years. Readers can decide whether they prefer the more open-knit opulence of the 1994, the more austere, jagged tannins of the big 1995, or the forceful power of the 1996.