2008 Abreu Howell Mountain

98
VM
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Product ID
2008-abreu-howell-mountain

Wine Critic Reviews for 2008 Abreu Howell Mountain

David Abreu’s 2008 Howell Mountain is in some ways a contrast to the Dunn, but to be honest, I am quite surprised by how similar both wines are. The Abreu has more fruit intensity and sweetness through the mid-palate, but that is about it. Like the Dunn, the Abreu remains quite primary at this stage but has a very bright future. All things considered the 2008s are more similar than dissimilar, which is eye opening.

Vinous Media | 98 VM
The 2008 Howell Mountain is fabulous. Blackberries, savory herbs, graphite and mint are some of the nuances that are woven together in a fabric of notable class and sheer personality. The tannins are quite firm and suggest the 2008 will require considerable patience. Readers who can wait will be treated to a superb wine. The 2008 Howell Mountain is 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot and 9% Merlot. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2033.

(Not yet released)

I stopped by Abreu twice this fall. The first time I tasted the 2008s, 2009s and 2010s. The second time I watched the work on the sorting table and tasted a few 2011s from tank. Both tastings left a deep impression. Brad Grimes is one of the most brilliant winemakers in Napa Valley. He seems guided by a sense of intuition married to experience rather than the more technical approach that is quite common throughout the Valley. Co-fermentations are quite common. Grimes isn’t going to lose any sleep if a few jack stems make it into the fermentation tanks. The winery itself is as immaculate as it could possibly be. Simply put, these are some of the most beautiful wines being made in Napa Valley today. The 2008s are big and massively tannic, while the 2009s are much more sexy and silky. The 2010s combine intense, rich fruit and huge tannins. All three vintages are exceptional, but my preference is for 2009 and 2010. Incidentally, two of the greatest wines I tasted this year were the 2001 Madrona Ranch and Thorevilos, both of which remain infants.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96+ RP

Wine Details on 2008 Abreu Howell Mountain

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Producer Abreu: “Early on, it was all about the vineyards,” asserts David Abreu. As a third generation California rancher, Abreu’s playground growing up was the Napa Valley. This is also where he learned the skill and art of wine growing. He developed an understanding of what makes one vineyard produce great wines, while another’s is just good. His expertise was then honed over a long career managing vineyards for some of the most iconic properties in Napa, including Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate, Pahlmeyer, Araujo Estate, and Bryant, to name a few. His involvement in the viticulture aspect of wine growing in the region has been instrumental in improving the quality of wines, raising the bar to another level.

It wasn’t until 1986 when Abreu experimented with his own property of Madrona Ranch, on the eastern edge of the Mayacamas Mountains in St. Helena. He had heard that the first vintage could either make or break a winemaker; however, this did not deter his efforts. The 1986 vintage in fact did not yield a successful product, to which he decided not to sell. He remained committed and in 1987 reaped the reward as it would become his first successful vintage and worthy of being sold.

In the beginning, he would leave bottles at restaurants, encouraging them to drink them with staff and if they liked what they tasted to give him a call. Many questioned his approach and what little success he might expect. However, his understanding of the vineyards, the soil and the fruit allowed him to prosper and began carving his own path. As the years progressed, so did the quality of the land and ultimately his wines. By word of mouth from winemakers and tasters in the Napa area, Abreu Vineyards began to gain traction. After a successful 1994 vintage Abreu was awarded instant popularity with wine lovers when famed wine taster, Robert Parker honored his Madrona Ranch with enthusiastic praise.

Today, Abreu operates four spectacular up-valley vineyards, with each yielding the respective fruit for each label designation. The vineyards of Madrona Ranch and Cappella reside in St. Helena on the valley floor which are relatively close to each other, with less than a mile between them. Las Posadas Howell Mountain is nestled on a hillside of Howell Mountain and Thorevilos (now called Ecotone Vineyard) just below it. David Abreu was the vineyard architect, vineyard manager and oversaw the planting of vines for all four sites.

The 70 acres of prime real estate are planted with Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and a small amount of Petit Verdot. Each single vineyard bottling has its own unique blend of varietal and soil structure which helps define the strong individual characteristics of each. In 2015 a fifth wine, Rothwell Hyde Napa Valley Red Wine, came to fruition which is an intimate reflection of the four vineyards. It encompasses the rich terroir, grape varietals, and characteristics of each vineyard.

The wine making process is led by chief winemaker, Brad Grimes, who implements early morning grape harvesting while the temperature is cooler. The fruit is diligently sorted twice prior to fermentation. The different grape varieties are then fermented together, which is a rare practice in the wine world. The wines age in 100% new French oak barrels for two years and then another two in bottle prior to release. Annual production for Abreu is rather limited with only about 500 cases produced. Though primarily allocated to a dedicated list of members, the wines have found their way to the secondary market where enthusiasts and collectors greedily seize any available bottles.

From the valley floor of St. Helena to the lofty Howell Mountains where the vines hang high above the fog line, the wines produced here are a true testament to the micro climate, terroir and the determined efforts of a master vineyard manager with a vision for cultivating tremendous wines from spectacular vineyards. David Abreu has planted his way to greatness and has stamped his name on the Napa Valley wine list of highly sought after, iconic estates
Region California: With a history of wine production that dates back to the 18th century, California currently sits as one of the world's most prolific and reputable wine regions. With an area as vast as California, you can expect a colorful collage of terroir profiles, a series of microclimates, and micro-environments that give the wine a unique, memorable appeal. The region's produce is far from homogenized in that sense, and it would take you countless hours to sample all of it. While the region boasts scars from the Prohibition era, it went through what can only be described as a viticultural Renaissance sometime after the 1960s. At that point, California went from a port-style, sweet wine region to a versatile and compelling competitor on the world market. Today, no matter which way your taste in wine leans, you can find a new favorite producer among California's most talented.

Notable sub-regions include legendary names like Napa Valley and Sonoma County, places that any wine lover would die to visit. California's quintessential warm climate allows for incredibly ripe fruit expressions, a style that provides a stark contrast to Old World-inspired, earthy classics. Even where inspiration was clearly taken from staple French appellations, Californian winemakers put their own unique spin on the wine.
Country US: As one of the most prolific and innovative wine regions in the world, America is a joy to explore. Most wine connoisseurs will agree that the nation's finest and most compelling wines are being produced today, which means that we have front-row seats to one of the most inspirational stories in wine history. While other regions tend to focus on specific wine styles and have somewhat strict rules as to which varietals you could grow, areas like California have few such restrictions in place. As a result, creative visionaries behind America's most reputable estates have been able to develop compelling, unique, and innovative styles, with a level of terroir expression that rivals even France's largest giants.
Type of Wine California Red: Whether it's Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Zinfandel, Californian red wine producers have a lovely habit of taking a varietal and expressing its essence in a unique, never before seen way. From Napa Valley to the regions south of Los Angeles, there's a red for everyone - and it's never too late to start exploring.
Varietal Proprietary Blend: Proprietary Blend is a general term used to indicate that a wine is comprised of multiple grape varietals which are either “proprietary” to the winery or is blended and does not meet the required maximum or minimum percentage of a particular varietal. This also is the case for the grape’s place of origin, especially for region, appellation or vineyard designated wines. There are endless examples of blended wines which are labeled as “Proprietary Blend” and in conjunction with each region’s stipulated wine laws and regulations makes for a vast blanket for wines to fall into. Perhaps the simplest example is California; if a wine is to be labeled as Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, it is required to have at least 75% of the varietal (Cabernet Sauvignon) and 85% of the fruit must be cultivated from the Napa Valley wine district. If the wine does not meet the requirements, it is then labeled as Proprietary Blend.

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