The beginnings of Ladera date to 1996 when Pat and Anne Stotesbery moved to Napa to raise their family. Over time their focus has become trained on mountain fruit which led them to an Estate vineyard on Howell Mountain. There’s a purity, freshness and vigor in well shepherded mountain fruit that’s simply different from fruit grown elsewhere. Some attribute it to the fact that Mountain fruit needs to work harder. Perhaps that’s it, I can’t say for certain. However I know that when exceptional Mountain Cab passes my lips it’s pretty obvious; this is one of those cases.
Ladera 2014 Howell Mountain Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($100)
In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (97%), a small amount of Petit Verdot (3%) was also blended in. All of the fruit is from Howell Mountain sites sitting at 1,600 to 1,800 feet in elevation. Aging took place in entirely new French oak over a period of 22 months. After that period of aging the final blend was assembled from the most exceptional lots the vintage produced. 1,300 cases of this offering were bottled.
The nose here is heady with black fruit, wisps of savory herbs and oodles of earth each making their presence known. Blackberry and black cherry lead a proportionate explosion of pure fruit flavors that drive the palate. Bits of chicory and a complement of spices come along for the ride too. Black tea, earth and a heavy dusting of dark baker’s chocolate are all part of the stupendous finish. This Cabernet from Ladera is the epitome of balance, restraint, and proportion. This is all accomplished while being fresh, fruit driven, and exhibiting reasonable power and heft. You can drink this wine today or lay it down for 15 to 20 years. In either case you’re getting an exceptional example of Cabernet Sauvignon that exhibits some of the best of what Napa Valley is capable of.