Pestoni Family Vineyards, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “Howell Mountain”
Pestoni Family Vineyards, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “Howell Mountain”

Pestoni Family Vineyards, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “Howell Mountain”

California, United States 2012 (750mL)
Regular price$75.00

Pestoni Family Vineyards, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “Howell Mountain”

Longtime SommSelect subscribers should perk up at the mention of Pestoni Family Vineyards, especially those of us who are fans of decidedly old school Napa Valley Cabernet. Yet this still feels very much like a true discovery, or better yet, a small miracle. Pristine mountain fruit, from the preeminent source for said fruit on Howell Mountain, that has been aging gracefully right where it was born, for over a decade now. The valley floor is where you get the most hedonistic, fruit-forward Cabs, and it is also where most of the wine tourism is found. But climb a couple thousand feet and the soils and weather change dramatically, leading to wines that have more balanced structure, more pedigree, indeed more nobility. They require age to unlock all of that complexity and profundity, which is why the 2012 Pestoni seems like a gift from the California wine gods. And we do mean “gift,” since the price is way below similar quality current releases from The Valley. Just be sure to grab enough to enjoy over the next 10-plus years; you’ll be very glad you did!

Although the Pestonis are nestled on the valley floor, one must look skyward to locate the origin of this special library release. Roughly 2,000 feet up Howell Mountain, the “Three Tears Vineyard” is home to 13 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, the sole source of today’s wine. The site’s soils are rich in volcanic tufa and iron-heavy clay. Combined with cooler daytime temps and twice as much rain as the valley floor gets, the conditions are perfect for balanced, elegant Cabernet that can age gracefully for decades. 

2012 was a near-perfect vintage for the “Three Tears Vineyard,” with a cool, wet spring followed by a warm summer that was free of heat waves. After picking and twice-sorting the fruit, the grapes were de-stemmed and transferred into stainless steel for fermentation. Upon completion, the resulting wine matured in new, high-quality French oak barrels for 24 months. This parcel has been resting in their cellar ever since. 

The direct-from-the-winery provenance is evident the moment the cork is pulled. An opaque dark ruby hue, with the subtlest bricking on the rim, spills into a large Bordeaux stem and emits dense yet fresh perfume. After 30-60 minutes of air, this becomes a Howell Mountain Cabernet archetype: intensely layered, ripping with muscle and dark fruit, and sizzling with black-rock minerality, you’ll discover cassis, black raspberry liqueur, charred plum, crushed volcanic rock, graphite, cedar, cigar tobacco, and violets carry through to the opulent, full-bodied palate. As it passes the decade-mark, it’s just starting to unravel some savory, earthy soul, and the oak has become almost fully integrated. Those who want primary fruit and power, start uncorking your bottles now and over the next five years. Those who want more of a sinewy, secondary-dominated Cabernet, should wait another decade. This has so much life left! In truth the ideal is to grab enough bottles to do both. When consuming, grill or pan-sear a ribeye—few pairings are more simple and delicious than this. 

Pestoni Family Vineyards, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “Howell Mountain”

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