Tasting Note: Dunn Vineyards 1986 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


1. Introduction:
There are few wineries in the world that are surrounded by true individuality, authenticity and originality like Dunn Vineyards.
Located in the Napa Valley appellation east of St. Helena on Howell Mountain in the town of Angwin, the estate was established with the first harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes by Randy and Lori Dunn in 1979. At that time Randy was still winemaker at Caymus Vineyards.
After a healthy evolution, Dunn Vineyards produces about 5000 cases of their two labels, “Howell Mountain” and “Napa Valley” (both 100% Cabernet Sauvignon), at present.
In 2000, Mike Dunn, Randy´s son, joined the winemaking and took over more responsibilities over the years to be in full charge of winemaking today.
While the “Howell Mountain” Cabernet always contains 100% Howell Mountain fruit, the “Napa Valley” wines usually include little Napa Valley floor fruit (~15%) with the remainder of the fruit coming from Howell Mountain. In recent vintages the “Napa Valley” was often made from 100% Napa Valley fruit as well.
The wines are famous for their ageing potential and moderate alcohol levels.
This is already our third full tasting note of a Dunn wine in this Blog.

Bottle and cork of our 1986 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon are in perfect condition. 13% alc.

2. Appearance:
Velvet to Dark, Blood-red and vital, but decent brightening.

3. Nose:
Integrated, finely spun, almost homogeneous aromatics Fresh Red Fruit with Red Currant, Cedar and Raspberry (!) Decent Stewed Fruit.
Ashes and Forrest Floor plus inviting Herbs (Sage!), Florals (Violets) and Dark Chocolate.
Little Vanilla and Minty Freshness.
Reluctant and elegant, but highly complex and intriguing!

4. Taste:
Harmonious, round and with Darker Fruit on the palate with Ripe, Dark Berries and Fruit in Rum. Mocha, Earthiness and Dark Chocolate.
Fresh and smooth mouthfeel with ultra-fine acidity and little, easy tannins.
Finishes medium-long with decent Bitterness (Crushed Peach Stone), drive, Ripe Fruit and Anise spiciness.
Vitality, amazing elegance and complexity!

5. Opinion:
Medium-bodied, alive and fresh, but fully integrated wine showing impressively what Old School Napa Valley Cabernet is capable of – after 28 years!
There are no bold, excessive attributes, no screaming for attention, but sophistication and silent fascination in a great wine!
Drink now.

1986 Napa Valley Cabernet shining in the glass.

Tasting Note: Dunn Vineyards 1997 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


1. Introduction:
While most valley floor wineries gear up with optical sorters and other high-tech equipment, Dunn Vineyards stays true to traditional, old ways of winemaking.
Randy & Mike Dunn´s wines are not of an easy style and need time to develop- first in the cellar and then, after opening, in the decanter. Even though their recent releases, especially of the Napa Valley Cab, changed to a maybe more approachable style compared to the ones back then. Nevertheless, the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and (even more!) the Howell Mountain Cab are both made in an Old World style for long-term cellaring with firm tannins and great structure.
Today we taste the 1997 Napa Valley Cabernet made from parts of Howell Mountain estate fruit and from purchased Napa Valley grapes.
Bottle and cork flawless. 13% alc.

2. Appearance:
Deepest Dark-Red/ Crimson with no signs of any visual aging.
Very dense and vibrant!

3. Nose:
Classic aged Cabernet aromatics with lots of Dark Fruits-
Driven by Cassis, (Black) Cherries and Cedar.
Multi-layered with a sophisticated play of secondary & tertiary characters of Leather, Earth (!), Tobacco and some Cocoa.
Mint, Anise and Dried Herbs in a fine cloud of (Sweet) Vanilla with very little Oak.
Very present, powerful and complex!

4. Taste:
Intense, but perfectly integrated flavor components of Dark Berries with Harmonious Earthy Elements, Leather and Tobacco. Dark Chocolate.
Very long finish with Ripe, Dark Fruits, Fresh Mint, Herbal Pepperiness and Comforting Power.
Velvety mouthfeel, a lot of power served with great finesse and balance.

5. Opinion:
A mind-blowing exceptional wine and one of the best wines we had this year! Period.
Amazing intensity, perfectly integrated with great complexity, finesse and harmony.
You can´t ask for more in an aged Cabernet and – yes I´m really excited – peaking now.
I simply can´t imagine how this wine could get any better. Cheers!


Tasting Note: Dunn Vineyards 2000 Howell Mountain


1. Introduction:
Dunn Vineyards produces wines that express their origin, the Howell Mountain region, and which are able to age gracefully over decades. They are famous for their Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, which is made of 100% Howell Mountain fruit and comes with a beautiful hand-dipped wax capsule.
Besides, they produce a second wine which is usually lighter and less tannic. This wine, the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, is made mostly of Howell Mountain fruit, but is blended with (Napa) Valley fruit as well.
Our 2000 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon was cellared under perfect conditions and had a healthy cork under its wax capsule.
We decanted the wine gently.

2. Appearance:
Deep crimson. With hardly any signs of aging. Dense and vital in color.

3. Nose:
After decanting the aromas were still locked. It took two hours until the wine opened up and presented its amazing line-up of aromas.
Graphite and Mineral Characters. Parsley and other Herbs. Decent fruit, as Dark Berries. Freshly ground coffee. Some Tar and Floral characters.
Enormous diversity served with great finesse!

4. Taste:
Earthy and Mineral characters. Cacao, Toasted Oak, Cloves with hints of Eucalypt. Beautiful Green facets. A little Fruit, Dark Berries and Cherries.
Finishes medium-long with vibrant Acidity and present Tannins.
Beautiful texture and mouthfeel!

5. Opinion:
If you are patient, you´ll be rewarded.
The wine needed time to open up and to show itself in an extraordinary way!
This is not the “normal” fruit dominated Napa Valley Cabernet.
Beautiful complexity and balance.
Drinks really well now, but has definitely not reached its peak yet.
Hold and enjoy in 5 to 10 years. Cheers!

Tasting at Dunn w. Mike Dunn, August 2012