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“If Godzilla drank Cabernet Sauvignon, would there be any doubt as to what choice it would be?”
September 22, 2020



Debut: “Howell Mountain is One of the Great Wines, Not Just of California, but of the World.” Experience the First Napa Wine IWM Ever Carried with the Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain from the Prized 2016 Vintage. (Just 5 Cases).

"If Godzilla drank California Cabernet Sauvignon, would there be any doubt as to what choice it would be? Anyone who has regularly tasted Randy Dunn's Cabernet Sauvignons (first produced in 1979) realizes several things. They all possess the following characteristics: (1) remarkable color and richness, (2) massive personalities with huge tannic structures, (3) gorgeous purity and unreal aging potential. These are among the finest values in long lived, classic Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.” - Robert Parker

Strong, fun, and perhaps slightly exaggerated words on what is the first Napa Valley wine that IWM carried going back two decades ago. In fact, when clients asked us where to go in Napa back in the early 2000s, we said go visit Randy Dunn, Cathy Corison, and the Araujos. And it is Robert Parker who may have said it best: "the Howell Mountain bottling from Dunn Vineyards is one of the great wines of the world." We at IWM agree, as we do not carry many selections from Napa. And like our staples of Mayacamas, Diamond Creek, Forman, Cathy Corison, and Continuum, it is Dunn Vineyards that is the kind of Napa Cabernet we want in our cellar, as this is Grand Cru Classé Napa without heavy handed extraction, high alcohol, or cult wine pricing. It is more traditional and Bordeaux-like, wearing its Howell Mountain fruit well. What we love here is the focus, structure, and that this is truly a more terroir-driven Napa bottling – you can taste the influence of the surrounding pine trees in the wine. As Antonio Galloni adds, “Yes, Dunn Howell Mountain is a powerful, gripping wine, but it also stands out for what it isn’t: too ripe, too high in alcohol, or too much.”

Dunn Vineyard was one of the early patriarchs to sport the Howell Mountain jacket with its inception in 1979. It remains the leading symbol of what Napa Cabernet could be. On this first day of Autumn, we are now finally pleased to share, the historic and classically built Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon for the first time in a decade. Unfortunately, the small thirty-five acre property, which sits at about 600 meters above sea-level, produces a mere one hundred barrels total per year, or the equivalent of 4,500 cases or so per year, and we receive a small allocation of this exceptional expression of the noble Cabernet. This is a wine that will sell out and we are pleased to present this mountain-fruit classic with a limited-time-only price of $144.99. It is a wine that can command $179 elsewhere, and to find this pricing on the east coast is not an easy task, let alone with the depth of five cases.

However, it does not end there for Dunn Vineyards and IWM. We also wanted to share the 2016 Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet. Roughly 50% of the prized fruit is from Howell Mountain, as well as 50% from the Napa Valley floor, which does provide the wine with softer fruit and tannins, making the expression more approachable. The IWM team had this wine last week and loved it – this remains a classic expression that has the Dunn DNA, but without the austerity of its older sibling. Our best recommendation is to buy some Dunn Napa Valley to enjoy today, while you wait on the Howell Mountain, a wine that is fit for Godzilla, to come around!

There are still some important releases from the classic 98-point vintage that Vinous has declared, “second only to 2013 among the top vintages of this decade so far.” And in our opinion, Dunn Vineyards is one of them. These remain some of the best values in the premium Napa category. The wines are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Featured Wine: An IWM Original – Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain and Napa Valley




Additional Notes and Reviews:



“The Dunn Howell Mountain wines don’t just age at a glacial pace; they evolve in classic Old World style, showing more soil-driven complexity, savory qualities and mellower tannins while retaining their shape and energy. This is a wine of great intensity and staying power but also of restraint and class. Numerous times in my tasting, I found myself comparing the wines to Médocs, particularly Saint-Julien or Pauillac. Yes, Dunn Howell Mountain is a powerful, gripping wine, but it also stands out for what it isn’t: too ripe, too high in alcohol, or too much.” - Antonio Galloni, Vinous

2016 Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Christopher Deas, Italian Wine Merchants: “No doubt about it, there remains a strong dedicated following for the Howell Mountain from Dunn Vineyards – it is one of the benchmarks for the region and a classic expression of Napa Valley’s Mountain fruit. It is stereotyped as the “Pauillac of Napa” and is one of the most age-worthy wines of California. However, the Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley cuvee showcases approachability. Randy’s son Mike has made the wines a little more approachable, and we love. From the classic and standout vintage of 2016, the wine is showing right out of the gate offering approachability on the palate and in the pocket (for Napa’s finest). The wine remains at just 13.9% and it is not your cloying, dark fruited Napa. There is red and black fruit here with some energy, and you can expect to find nuances of cherries, plum, red licorice, olives, sweet tobacco, coffee, and cedar. While not high in alcohol there is plenty of soft, glycerin-like texture that helps make this a huge crowd-pleaser even today. Easily one of the highlights from our summer staff tasting.”

93 Points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous: “Dunn's 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) is a pretty, easygoing wine that readers will be able to drink with minimal cellaring. Medium in body with good brightness, the 2016 has quite a bit to offer. Sweet red fruit and floral notes add perfume to the nicely lifted finish. The Napa Valley Cabernet was bottled recently and is a bit reticent, but it offers fine potential. Pretty savory and floral notes extend the finish nicely.”



2016 Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
97 Points, Karen MacNeil, Decanter: “Wiry, opinionated and something of a recluse, Randy Dunn has a reputation for making sleek, powerfully structured, extremely age-worthy mountain cabernet. He is also adamant on the topic of ripeness, vowing in 2007 that he would never make a wine with more than 14% alcohol by volume. The 2016, like most Dunn Cabernets, has not an ounce of body fat. It’s tight, lean, and focused with soaring fine tannin and lots of fantastic savory and spicy flavors from black olives to Chinese 5-spice. The fruit has almost a cool blue character. While I loved drinking this 2016, this wine won’t truly unfurl itself for another several years.”

95+ Points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous: “The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain offers good density, but in more of a medium-bodied style that is quite a bit more approachable than is the norm here. A whole range of inky Howell Mountain fruit, graphite, grilled herb, licorice, spice, chocolate, and lavender nuances open up in a brooding, resonant Cabernet that needs a few years in bottle to start drinking well. There is plenty of the structure readers have come to expect from Dunn, but less youthful austerity, which is not a bad thing at all.”

If you would like to take advantage of this offer we are asking that you email orders back to me
at chris.deas@italianwinemerchants.com, connect with your portfolio manager or mention receipt of this offer if calling the store. All orders are subject to confirmation.

All my best,
Chris