This, the third drought year in a row, started with mild temperatures and little rainfall allowing the soil to warm early and wake the vines weeks before typical. While its great to get an early start, the new shoots can be exposed to frost and flowering occurs during more variable early spring weather. Cold, rain, or even just rapidly changing temperatures can interrupt pollination and set. With fewer flowers laid down the year before due to drought, any loss at flowering further reduces an already smaller than average crop. We saw our yields down by about a third, mostly due to a cold weather front that came through during flowering. Intermittent rainstorms all spring long gave us just enough rainfall once again, enough for us to farm but not enough to relieve the drought statewide. The year saw rolling heat and cool waves, with just a few very hot spells. We had a few welcome light rains in September, at least for Cabernet Sauvignon, that kept the canopy healthy, and warm weather afterword to dry the fruit out. As with 2013 and 2014, the low soil moisture kept the grape berries extremely small and thick skinned, which gave us wine of intensity and complexity. This was our earliest harvest to date.
2015 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting Notes
Savory, dark and lush, the wine opens with clove, cinnamon, tarragon, bay leaf and black fruit scents. Sweet tobacco, espresso and chocolate greet the palate accompanied by black cherry and brambly fruit, while deeply evolved, dense tannins carry the black currant through the long round finish. The wine evolves with air, revealing new savory and sweet characters as it opens. While it will improve for years in the cellar, it can be enjoyed in the near term with decanting.