Overview of the Wine
We first discovered, and were irretrievably drawn to this unique property in the late 1980’s. For over 20 years we have shared the beauty and mystery of Arkenstone with bear, coyote, mountain lion, rattle snake, scorpion and raptors of all sorts (as well as voracious grape eating wild turkeys). Remnants of native obsidian work, as well as walls made of local stone built during the 1800's, are constant reminders that we are just the latest inhabitants to appreciate and benefit from this land.
Our serious interest in wine and our families’ farming history perhaps made it inevitable that we would think about planting vineyards here. We knew we did not want to clear the site for an “industrial” vineyard but didn’t know whether the effort required of farming the small patches of open space using sustainable practices could be justified. Then, in early 1995, a good friend of ours, who grew up in a Napa Valley wine family and founded her own label, encouraged us. She arranged for an expert who consulted for top vineyards all over the world to come to the Napa Valley to evaluate a number of potential vineyard sites. He included Arkenstone on this visit. Test holes were dug, and on a cloudy wet day we tramped around the property talking about dirt, drainage, exposures, air movement, and, most importantly, the promise of the site. His conclusion was that wine grapes of very high quality could be produced here, and that Arkenstone was indeed a special site. We didn’t then know to say “terroir” but understood that the grapes and the wine from these vineyards could over time become a recognizable expression of our site, climate, farming and winemaking. We decided to make this promise a reality.
Grape / Blend
79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Merlot and 2% Malbec
Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
Winemaker Tasting Notes
The Arkenstone Estate Cabernet Blend (formerly known as Obsidian)consists entirely of fruit from our Howell Mountain Estate ranging from 1400’ to 1650’ on the western shoulder of the mountain. Each year the blend is comprised of the top performing blocks from 16 of our 22 blocks dedicated to the Estate Cab Blend. By having complete control over the vineyard we are able to begin to shape the wines while on the vine. Once picked, we process all of our fruit here at Arkenstone where the grapes are sorted and fed by gravity down into our fermentation hall. As the grapes come in, all lots are kept separate to ferment and age individually. Once the wines have aged about 11 months in barrel by lot we will begin to make our blend. Once blended the wine will go back into barrel for an additional 11 months and then into bottle for an additional year before release.
98 Points - Jeb Dunnuck
Flirting with perfection, the 2018 Estate Red is an off-the-hook beauty based on 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, and the rest Malbec and Merlot. Full-bodied, flawlessly balanced, and both powerful and elegant, it offers a captivating bouquet of chocolate covered blue fruits, bay leaf/bouquet garni, violets, and candied orange zest. I’d be happy to drink a bottle today, but smart money will give it 2-3 years of bottle age.
98 Points - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2018 Howell Mountain Estate Red Blend is composed of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Merlot and 2% Malbec. It was aged for 22 months in French oak barrels, 100% new. Deep garnet-purple colored, it sashays out of the glass with gregarious scents of red and black cherries, cassis and ripe plums plus nuances of lilacs, pencil lead, tree bark and black olives. Full-bodied, it has a solid structure of ripe, fine-grained tannins with great freshness lifting the dense fruit to a long, wonderfully pure finish. 700 cases were made.
93 Points - Jeb Dunnuck
The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Estate Obsidian is the estate cuvee (from Howell Mountain, not to be confused with Obsidian Vineyard) and offers a ripe, sexy style in its blackberry and currant fruits, white truffle, and chalky, dried earth aromas and flavors. Medium to full-bodied, nicely balanced, with ripe, polished tannin, solid mid-palate depth, and a great finish, it can be drunk anytime over the coming 15-20 years.
93 Points - James Suckling
A linear and finely crafted red with iodine, berry and currant character. Some chili powder, too. Medium to full body, fine and silky tannins and a flavorful finish. Give it three of four years of bottle age. Try in 2021.
Product size: 750ml
From a private seller.