Regardless, Napa Valley has long been touted as the crown jewel of California crus. After my tasting excursion through August Moon’s wine-stocked courtyards, I was curious to delve further into Napa’s rich soils. Although there were nearly 30 wineries in-house, I grew especially fond of Ladera Vineyards’ Howell Mountain Cabernet. Affixed 1,800 feet above the Valley floor, the winery building, constructed in 1886, possesses a 125-year winemaking history. The Stotesbery family purchased the property, which boasts some of the region’s most prized fruit, and have been making wine under the Ladera label since 1996.
“Wines from Napa Valley are so unique because of the combination of soil and climate. The Mediterranean climate, which we have here, exists on only 2 percent of the planet.” shares Pat Stotesbery, Proprietor of Ladera Vineyards. “That combined with the soil types; one of the most soil varietals in one place when compared with other agricultural areas.”
During harvest, the wine spends anywhere from 20-24 months in oak barrels before it is blended and aged 9-12 months. Mirroring France’s Bordeaux, the silky Ladera tastes of pure mountain spice. Its flavor is elegant and bold with hints of fruity rich blackberry and cocoa to finish. Layered notes include dark cherries, blueberry and spiced plum. Structured and strong, dark currant is also present.
“In specific, Howell Mountain enjoys both the altitude (less temperature variation and less extremes), as well as the soil. We have high volcanic content here, which results in a high mineral content but low nutrient count,” Stotesbery says. “That combination brings out the intensity of the spicy flavors we find here.”
Image courtesy Ladera Vineyards