Chris Howell is a wine grower who marches to his own beat. Many of his practices vary from just about any other winery in Napa valley. Relying more on blending than single grape varieties, multi-vintage blends, even using brettanomyces, the yeast strain often feared by others, Howell’s wines are unique, thought provoking, and truly expressions of his philosophy about what makes great wine. I enjoyed our interview so much this episode runs a little longer than most. Be patient though, what Howell has to say is worth listening to.
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Chris Howell, Wine-Grower/General Manager Cain
1996, Cain Five
This wine still shows a lot of youthful color. Medium Garnet, with just a hint of brick around the rim. The nose is lively with integrated notes of red berries, earth, and cocoa. Flavors of red berries are backed up by bright acidity and silky tannins with a hint of baking spices on the long elegant finish.
SRP: $320 on the secondary market
2012, NV12 Cain Cuvée
Very pretty, but not quite delicate garnet color. An earthy nose shows violet, mushrooms and a bit of funkiness. The lush, velvety texture leads to flavors of cassis, raspberry, leather, and cocoa, finishing fine acid and tannins. This is the Bordeaux lovers Cali wine!
2012, Cain Five
This wine shows a fresh, vibrant youthful garnet color. The complex nose presents violets, juniper, and a touch of green peppercorns. Flavors of fresh currant and blackberry integrate harmoniously with earthy notes of forest floor. Fine smooth tannins lead to a long thought provoking and graceful finish.
2012, Cain Concept
This wine shows a star bright, deep ruby color. Aromas of ripe red fruit lead to a bit of herbs. Flavors of bright fresh cherries and cocoa, lead to earthy notes of mushrooms. A touch reductive at this time. Decant for an hour or more before drinking this finessed, lovely wine.