2012 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The stunning 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain is a 30-year wine. Loads of crème de cassis, blackberry liqueur, licorice, incense and oak jump from the glass of this huge, massive, concentrated and ripe wine that reminds me of some of the early vintages from Michael Dunn’s father, Randy, particularly the 1982 and 1984. This is a beauty of great intensity and purity that should age effortlessly for 25-30+ years. If you can find it, it will be certainly worth having, as it flirts with perfection. Mike Dunn seems to be far more flexible than his father about alcohol levels in their Cabernet Sauvignon, as some of these are over 14%, while his father consistently maintained he used reverse osmosis to lower the alcohol. That being said, there is never a question about ripeness. These wines are always picked at 25 or more Brix to get the fruit ripe. After some hiccups over the last decade, the 2011s performed well above the average vintage quality, and the 2012s are spectacular, including the first old-vine cuvée from the first vines Randy Dunn planted in 1972. Unfortunately, that wine is limited as only four barrels, or about 100 cases, were produced. There have always been two cuvées and they are Napa bottling, which comes from young fruit as well as purchased fruit, in more recent years from Coombsville. And the estate wine comes from the steep, 35-acre red Aiken soil-dominated vineyards of Howell Mountain.(RP)
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain is one of the most exotic, flamboyant young wines I have ever tasted from Randy and Mike Dunn. Graphite, cherry liqueur, smoke, licorice, plums and crème de cassis, open up in an alluring Cabernet Sauvignon that melds together ripeness and structure. The fruit is distinctly red-toned in 2012, with fewer of the darker notes that are often present in the Howell Cabernet. Pliant and expressive, but with plenty of underlying tannin, the 2012 is shaping up to be a beauty. Best of all, it won’t need decades in the cellar to start drinking well. As for the wines. Dunn's 2012s are terrific. Dunn fans will notice the addition of a new wine in the range, the Trailer Cabernet, which was made only in 2012 and 2013 as a homage to a historically significant vineyard on the property that has since been replanted. In addition to these wines, I also had a chance to revisit the Howell Mountain Cabernets from vintages 2006-2009, which reinforced my view that these wines are less forbiddingly tannic young than they used to be. Of those vintages, 2008 remains the star.
Exhibits a sinewy core of dense currant, blackberry and dusty, fine-grained tannins that grip the palate and cling tightly, slowly easing to make way for subtle hints of licorice, anise and dried herb amid the underlying accents of rock and fresh-turned earth. Unabashedly tannic and seductive, in a style with presence. Drink now through 2030.