Cakebread Cellars has been in operation in Napa Valley since 1973. With vineyards spread over a host of appellations they have more than 450 acres under vine in a handful of prime Napa Valley locations. They started out making Chardonnay in their first vintage and that as well as Sauvignon Blanc remain amongst their best known offerings year after year. However their portfolio includes a growing stable of well made reds. That includes no less than 3 distinct Cabernet Sauvignons. Today I’ll look at their Bordeaux inspired blend from Howell Mountain. The Cakebread Cellars 2006 Dancing Bear Ranch was produced using fruit sourced at their estate vineyard on Howell Mountain. The Dancing Bear Ranch is comprised of 200 acres; just fewer than 30 are under vine. This vineyard was planted in 1999. This offering is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (79%), Merlot (17%), and Cabernet Franc (4%). This wine was fermented in stainless steel and barrel aging occurred in French oak over 26 months; 60% of the barrels were new. 2,500 cases of this selection were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $105.
The nose of this wine is a touch reticent at first. But as it gets some air, aromas of bramble, blackberry, thyme and vanilla emerge. Cherry flavors are prominent on the palate and they’re underscored by solid wallops of fig and dark berry flavors as well as a host of spices such as white and black pepper. All of these come together to form a pure burst of flavor that showcases the unadulterated intensity of mountain fruit. Pencil lead, espresso, earth and mineral notes all emerge on the lengthy, layered and rather impressive finish of this wine. This release has firm tannins and solid acidity.
I really like this estate blend from Cakebread Cellars, but it’s still in its infancy. Dancing Bear Ranch is a wine you’re going to want to lay down for maximum enjoyment. However if you’re going to drink it now, I’d recommend decanting it for a solid 5-6 hours as well as pairing it with hearty fare. I went back to this wine after it had been open for a full 24 hours and it was even more impressive than it had been on night one. But if you’re patient, lay this beauty down in your cellar for a decade or so and then pull it out for a special occasion over the following 6-8 years and you’ll be in for some serious gratification. Either way this is a well made wine showcasing it’s pedigree of serious Howell Mountain fruit. This is a terrific addition to the Cakebread line.