The wax came off and the cork came out of a 1989 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet on Saturday night.
This wine was from what Napa winemakers dubbed “the vintage from hell.” Part of it might have been their fault: They hung a huge crop, and then at about the time the grapes were ready to come off the vine, it rained and stayed damp. That rain led to some rot and it effectively ended the growing season. It went down in the books as an off-vintage. But of course, even in dicey years, excellent wines are often made—and the Dunn Howell Mountain bottling was true to form.
Opening that bottle was a massive and messy chore, the mess being the result of removing the hard wax seal that covers the bottle neck and cork. I’ve never liked wax seals. They almost always shatter when they're removed, leaving tiny bits of red wax everywhere—on my clothes, on the counter, on the floor. On top of that, the cork crumbled into a sawdusty mess when it was popped. Somehow the wine went into the decanter clear, which rarely happens when a cork is destroyed.
Inky in color and deeply concentrated, the wine had the hallmark Dunn Howell Mountain traits. It was still intense and tannic, even gutsy, with a bit more earthiness than you would find in a riper year. I’d had a 2000 Cos-d'Estournel the night before, and the Dunn had weightier tannins, despite being older.
Dunn fans—and even those who aren’t—often debate whether these Cabernets will ever soften and come around, and frankly, I don’t much care. When I drink a Dunn, I want the full Dunn experience, not some elegant, watered-down version. Most of the Dunn Howell Mountain bottlings age very well and they retain their massive, muscular form, which is part of their charm and exactly what I expect once I get through the hard part—getting the wax and cork out of the way.
Glenn S Lucash — March 12, 2007 4:47pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — March 12, 2007 4:54pm ET
Glenn S Lucash — March 12, 2007 5:52pm ET
Roy Piper — Napa, CA. — March 12, 2007 7:57pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — March 12, 2007 8:02pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — March 12, 2007 8:05pm ET
Steve Dunn — phila, PA USA — March 12, 2007 9:40pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — March 12, 2007 9:47pm ET
Roy Piper — Napa, CA. — March 12, 2007 11:25pm ET
Jack Bulkin — March 13, 2007 12:07am ET
Glenn S Lucash — March 13, 2007 8:38am ET
Bryan Bucari — Baton Rouge, LA — March 13, 2007 11:07am ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — March 13, 2007 11:55am ET
Bryan Bucari — Baton Rouge, LA — March 13, 2007 6:01pm ET
Todd Dewitt — Cincinnati, OH — March 13, 2007 6:39pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — March 13, 2007 6:45pm ET
Ned Thorn — March 13, 2007 7:30pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — March 13, 2007 7:35pm ET
Ron Ellis — March 14, 2007 11:27am ET
Michael Greenwald — Wynnewood, PA — March 14, 2007 11:57am ET
Anthony C Comito — Hillsborough, NJ — March 16, 2007 4:02pm ET
Roger Every — March 22, 2007 11:11am ET
Janna Wemmer — Seattle — August 2, 2007 2:08pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — August 2, 2007 2:18pm ET
Charles F Hollis — charleston, sc — October 26, 2007 9:37am ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — October 26, 2007 5:27pm ET
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