Most visitors to the Napa Valley go for the chance to taste or drink some of the wines from its over 400 vintners. While you can enter the valley from the north, east, and west, it is from the south that most arrive having begun the journey in the San Francisco Bay area and connected to Highway 29 that runs up the west side of the valley. Once they reach the city of Napa, the choice is to continue north on Highway 29 or cross to the east side of the valley and go north on the Silverado Trail. Either choice goes past more wineries than one can possibly visit in an extended stay and neither route will disappoint as both will give access to many fine producers. But for those who have traversed Highway 29 or the Trail in the past and who wish to get off the most traveled routes there are other options.
The notes which follow cover some of the wineries located in the Spring Mountain District and on Howell Mountain. Both are near the north end of the valley: Spring Mountain is to the west of St. Helena and Howell Mountain is to the east. Both offer more wineries than anyone can comfortably visit in one day and there are many other wines that are covered here but are well worth visiting. So choose these or others but take time to explore Spring Mountain and Howell Mountain.
Most of these wineries are small and most require you to telephone for an appointment. Do not let that stop you because the additional effort is worth the time. The very fact that these wineries are small means that their owners have more flexibility to decide what to make the style of wines they prefer whether or not that style is currently popular with critics or large portions of the wine drinking public. This is because if they make well crafted wines there will be enough people out there their few hundred or few thousand cases. They don’t to please wine writers in order to sell tens or hundreds of thousands of cases. (That does not mean that small vintners do not concern themselves with selling their small quantities, they do. It also does not mean large wineries can afford to make bad wine.) Also, because the wineries are small many are not widely distributed and visiting will afford you the opportunity to discover something new and to see whether you prefer those wines to others with which you are already familiar. An additional attraction is that with many of the wineries you will meet the owner or winemaker in the “tasting room,” if it even exists and can discuss their wines without the sales pitch common in large tasting rooms.
Spring Mountain District
Spring Mountain Road is a narrow two lane which means than you can drive slowly and relax. Whether you decide to visit wineries on the way up or go to the top and visit on the way down or whether the timing of your visits means you do both, you can’t get lost as, with the exception of Cain, all of the wineries entrances are reached directly from Spring Mountain Road. Just pay attention to the addresses and you should have no problems. For convenience, the notes that follow start at the bottom and proceed to the top.
The first winery you will arrive at as you begin your way up Spring Mountain is
Spring Mountain Winery
The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Estate, [Spring Mountain District], Napa Valley, $40, 14.5% alc., contains 16% Semillon. Fermented in neutral French oak sur lie with bâtonnage, has an attractive nose of peach, pear, apple, pineapple, sweet lime, floral, and a touch of kiwi. All repeat as smoothly textured flavors laced with good acidity and with the additions of Clementine and kiwi before a nice finish that adds a ribbon of spice down the center. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Tasty.
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, [Spring Mountain District], Napa Valley, $75, 14.3% alc., is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Merlot. Aged in new French oak for twenty-two months, it opens with cherry, raspberry, cassis, currant, leather, smoky oak, and a touch of earth on the nose. Fresh, lively flavors of the same plus blackberry, spice, and some chocolate finish long and broad. Well integrated, structured, and balanced, with good acidity that will make it a complement to food, it is easily drinkable now (decant it a couple of hours before) but will be even better with another five years in the bottle. Very Good.
The 2009 Elivette, Estate, [Spring Mountain District], Napa Valley, $125, 14.4% alc., is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 12% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot, and 1% Malbec. Matured for twenty-two months in new French oak, it has an elegant nose of blackberry, cassis, black cherry, plum, chocolate, boysenberry, leather, floral, and light smoke. All continue as flavors with the addition of tobacco and laced with very fine tannin and nice acidity before a long, broad finish. Nicely round and with lots happening, it needs another five years in the bottle to develop and begin to show at its best. Well integrated, structured, and balanced. Very Good
As you continue up Spring Mountain Road you will pass a number of wineries. They are worth a visit but the next stop requires a detour. On your left will be Langtry Road, named after the British music hall singer (née Emilie Charlotte Le Breton) and royal mistress. Langtry is narrow and winding and you will pass orchards and vineyards before you get to a sign denoting the end of the public and beginning of the private part of the road. Keep going and at the end you will see signs for Cain. Take the left fork (the right ends up behind the winery) and take care because just before you get the winery and offices the road goes up and drops sharply and you can’t see where it goes until you get to the top. Go down, turn right, and park and then before you go in look around and get an idea of the slopes upon which Cain’s vineyards are planted.
Cain Vineyard and Winery
Jerry and Joyce Cain purchased the property that is now the winery and vineyards in 1980 and planted it to the five main Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Using their fruit, they first produced Cain Five in 1985 and it remains the winery’s premier wine through the current release. The Cains retired in 1991 and Jim and Nancy Meadlock who had become partners in 1986 took over as sole owners and remain so today.
The wines have been made by Christopher Howell since he came to Cain in 1990 after time at Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Peter Michael. Both the style and high quality at Cain have remained consistent. The wines not only reflect the vineyards but are clearly crafted to create wines that will complement food. There is more information which provides insight to the vineyards including an especially informative video on pruning at the winery’s website: www.cainfive.com
In the past Cain has made a Sauvignon Musqué but it now limits its wines to three reds. The NV09 Cain Cuvée, Napa Valley, $34, 14% alc., is a blend of 54% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Petit Verdot from vineyards in Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville, Spring Mountain, and Atlas Peak. Fifty-seven percent of the wine is from the 2009 vintage, 43% is from 2008. The goal is to make a dry, light, fresh, everyday wine and each vintage varies slightly from the preceding ones but all have met what Chris Howell’s goal. No oaky fruit bomb here but attractive cherry, currant, cassis, and raspberry aromas accented with some smoky oak. All repeat as flavors laced with nice firm tannin and good acidity and finish medium-broad and medium-long. Well balanced, structured, and integrated, it will pair well with a wide range of foods. Very Tasty.
The 2008 Cain Concept—The Benchland, Napa Valley, $60, 14.6% alc., is made with purchased fruit from benchland vineyards in the Napa Valley. The blend is 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Petit Verdot. As is typical of many 2008 Napa wines, this release is readily approachable now but well enough balanced to age gracefully with its nose of violets, dark cherry, blackberry, smoke, vanilla, and cedar. Round, clear, light bodied flavors of the same with fine tannin and nice acidity finish long and broad with the addition of spice at the sides. Tasty.
The 2008 Cain Five, Estate, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, $125, 14.2% alc., is 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot. Elegant and finely structured from the nose through its long, broad finish, it has a restrained nose of candied grapefruit peel, cherry, blackberry, leather, cassis, and herb that repeats as flavors with added spice at the sides, supple tannins, and good acidity. Complex and still evolving it need more time to develop, open, and show well. Give it another five years or so. Very Good.
After you leave Cain and enjoy the leisurely drive back to Spring Mountain Road, turn left and head up the mountain to
Robert Keenan Winery
The 2011 Chardonnay, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $31, 13.9% alc., was fermented and aged in French and American oak and was aged sur lie with bâtonnage for seven months in the same barrels. Restrained aromas of pear, green apple, and lemon repeat as flavors with the additions of some peach and toasty oak before a medium-broad, somewhat truncated finish. Well put together.
The 2009 Merlot, Napa Valley, $36, 14.8% alc., is a blend of 77% Estate and 23% Carneros Merlot. Aged in 33% new French and American oak for eighteen months, it has a nose of blackberry, black cherry, cassis, and coffee. Medium bodied flavors of the same are accented with fine tannin and nice acidity before a finish that adds spice and smoky oak. It is a straight forward, well balanced, structured, and integrated Merlot. Tasty.
In contrast, the 2009 Merlot, Mailbox Vineyard, Estate, Reserve, Spring Mountain District, $64, 350 cases, has a lush nose of chocolate enrobed cherry, currant, cassis, blackberries, and hints of licorice and mint. All repeat as flavors with the addition of black pepper at the sides, a touch of bell pepper, fine tannin, and nice acidity. All continue through the medium-broad, medium long finish. Well structured, integrated, and balanced. Very Tasty.
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $49, 14.8% alc., has a nose of blackberry, licorice, cedar, currant, and smoke. The palace adds nice acidity and light tannin and everything carries though the medium-broad, medium-long finish. A well crafted, medium bodied Cabernet.
The 2009 Syrah, [81% Coombsville, 19% Atlas Peak], Napa Valley, $38, 14.3% alc., 395 cases, was aged in French and American oak for seventeen months. Aromas of black cherry, blackberry, leather, and floral introduce bright, juicy, forward flavors of the same with light, fine tannin and nice acidity before a long, broad finish. It is fairly light bodied but should gain weight, mature, and better integrate the tannin with another two years or so in the bottle. Well put together. Tasty.
From Robert Keenan, it is only a short drive farther up the mountain to the most idiosyncratic of Spring Mountain’s vintners.
Philip Togni Vineyard
Philip Togni makes two Cabernets Sauvignon and small amount of Red Hamburg/Black Muscat. There is no sign for the winery, only an address on a post and the entrance is through a locked gate. When you make an appointment (it will probably for 3 pm or later), you will be given the combination. Don’t forget to take it with you and remember to relock the gate after you enter and when you leave.
Philip has made the wines (first release 1983) and, as with other winemakers with long experience with the same vineyards, his wines have continued to evolve while maintain a consistent style. More recently his daughter Lisa him in making the wines. Philip received his winemaking training at Chateau Lascombes in Margaux and Lisa at Chateau Leoville Barton in St. Julien. The front of the house is run by Philip’s wife, Birgitta who will take you though the winery and, if you are fortunate and have the time, either she or Philip will give you a tour of the vineyards.
The 2012 season was generous and Togni will release about 1900 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon from his estate vineyards. (In 2010 and 2011 there were only 1400 cases.) About 30% of the wine is exported to Canada, Germany, Switzerland, England, and Asia (mostly Thailand). Otherwise distribution is limited though there is an order form on the website. Better still, if you want some, get on the mailing list because the Cabernet is often sold out even before it is released.
The Cabernet is aged in new French oak and the final blend contains 10-15% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Alcohol is less than 14% and the wines the 2010 Cabernet and Tambark Hill (a second label or sort of declassified wine from the Togni Cabernet) is sold out even though it has not yet been released but notes follow to give an idea of what you can expect.
The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, Napa Valley, $95, shows cherry, black raspberry, currant, smoky oak, leather, earth, and blueberry on the nose. All repeat as flavors accented with very fine, smooth tannin and good acidity and carry through the long, medium-broad finish. While you could drink this wine on release, that would be a waste. It needs at least another eight years in the bottle to develop and open and should drink well for a decade or more after that. Very Good.
The 2010 Tambark Hill, Estate, [Spring Mountain District], Napa Valley, $40, is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of dark cherry, black raspberry, currant, boysenberry, and smoky oak carry all the way through to the end of the medium-broad, medium-long finish. The wine has nice tannin and acidity and is well put together. Good.
The 2005 Ca’ Togni, Estate, [Spring Mountain District], Napa Valley, $50/375 ml., 14% alc., is Black Muscat with 23% residual sugar. Chocolate, blackberry pie, honey, apricot, and peach on the nose lead to nicely bright flavors of the same that finish long and medium-broad. The wine is sweet but the acidity keeps everything in balance and it is not cloying. Rather, it is delicious. Very Good.
Almost across from Philip Togni is
Terra Valentine where you enter its imposing structure on the ‘second’ floor—the winery is below—and proceed to the tasting room from which you will have a lovely view down the valley. Terra Valentine makes over one dozen different wines but all except the Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon are available only direct from the winery. Fortunately, the winery will be happy to send you some if you contact it but it has several wines that are available only to members of its wine club. Thus, after you have tried the wines, you can decide whether you wish to join the club or only purchase the wines you find especially tasty. Notes on five of its current releases follow.
The 2011 Riesling, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $36, 14.1% alc., 300 cases, was aged for about sixteen months in neutral French oak puncheons. Aromas of peach, unripe pineapple, lemon, guava, and a mineral note introduce dry, crisp flavors of grapefruit, lime, lime peel, and a touch of spice before a long, medium-broad finish. This is the third vintage of this wine and it is straight forward and still a work in progress. Well put together. Tasty.
The 2009 Cabernet Franc, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $55, 14.9% alc., 300 cases, spent eighteen months in French oak, 50% new. A nose of cherry, boysenberry, violets, and notes of pepper, smoke, and earth precede flavors of the same with a bit more pepper showing and laced with light, fine tannin and moderate acidity. It finishes medium-broad and somewhat truncated. Well balanced, structured, and integrated and with the earthy note that is found in many Spring Mountain wines.
The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yverdon Vineyard, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $65, 14.9% alc., 500 cases, was matured in 45% new French oak for twenty-two months and the final blend contains 1% Merlot. Forward, ripe aromas of cherry, blackberry, dark chocolate, fig, licorice, and smoke lead to smooth, round flavors with the cherry especially bright and everything accented with fine tannin and nice acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish which shows some alcohol at the end. Light bodied, it will benefit from several years in the bottle to develop and that should also cover the alcohol note. Well put together.
In contrast, the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Wurtele Vineyard, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $65, 14.9% alc., 500 cases, was aged for twenty-two months in French oak, 50% new. It opens with smoke, black cherry, blackberry, cocoa, and sweet fig. Flavors of blackberry, smoky oak, dark cherry, and fig have a hint of sweetness, moderate acidity, and fine, tooth coating tannin. The finish is medium-broad and medium-long. The wine is well structured and balanced for long term aging and more time in the bottle will enhance the body and moderate the tannin. Tasty.
The 2008 Marriage, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $80, 14.9% alc., 400 cases, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot. A soft, restrained nose of cocoa, cherry, blackberry, currant, and smoky oak introduces round, soft flavors of the same with more prominent oak, gripy tannins, and moderate acidity before a medium-broad, somewhat truncated finish. The wine has slight bitterness from the oak and is well balanced, structured, and integrated.
Next up the hill and with a new entrance driveway that is even paved is
John and Shawn Guilliams moved to their Spring Mountain abode in 1978 and planted their approximately seven acre vineyard the next year. It is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% each of Merlot and Cabernet Franc and their Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of the three. That, along with John’s belief that what he makes should reflect first the vineyard and then his skillful winemaking, makes the Guilliams wines more strongly “Spring Mountain” than many others.
Located under the Guilliams’ house, the winery is small and low tech. It is a treat to see a winery that reflects how many looked and operated in the past. This does not mean that the quality is old fashioned or rustic but rather it reveals that high quality wine does not demand fancy equipment or a showplace winery. It also means that Shawn will host your visit and if the weather is warm you can taste just outside the winery door. If it is cold, a table just inside is as posh as it will get.
Remember that because this is basically a two person operation, you definitely need to make an appointment. At present the winery does not have its own website. You can schedule a visit by calling 707.963.9059 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The wines are all matured in French oak, small production, modestly priced, and not as widely distributed as they deserve. All of the current releases reflect the earthiness characteristic of Spring Mountain; in fact, they are earthier than many others. About 50% of the production is sold direct from the winery. Get on the list.
The 2007 Merlot, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $40, 130 cases, 14.3% alc., contains 3% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc. A bouquet of earth, blackberry, boysenberry, oak, cherry, smoke, chocolate, and vanilla introduce medium bodied flavors of the same shot through with nice acidity and fine, dry tannin. Everything carries through the medium-broad, somewhat truncated finish. There are initial hints of sweetness that become pure fruit in this well balanced, structured, and integrated Merlot.
Cabernet Franc is becoming more popular as a single variety wine throughout the Napa Valley with more wineries seeming to produce it every year. Styles vary widely so if you like or think you might like Cabernet Franc; make sure to try them whenever possible. Guilliams’ 2009 Cabernet Franc, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $45, 160 cases, 14.3% alc., opens with earth, chocolate, cherry, plum, smoky oak, and leather. Bright, lively flavors of the same with just a touch of well integrated oak, fine, smooth tannin, and good acidity finish medium-broad and medium-long with the addition of spice at the front. Well done. Very Tasty.
The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $45, 14.3% alc., has a well developed, inviting nose of earth, cherry, currant, blackberry, unsweetened chocolate, sweet leather, and smoky oak. The palate adds peppery spice at the front and sides and is laced with very fine, smooth tannin and lively acidity. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. Overall, the wine is lively, juicy, and medium-bodied with a nice roundness. Definitely food friendly, drinkable now or keep it for another five years or so to develop even more depth. Good.
The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $70, 160 cases, 14.3% alc., contains 6% Cabernet Franc. Rather than a blend of grapes from throughout the vineyard with its different exposures and soils, the Reserve utilizes about one-half of the fruit from two acres that John feels are the best of the harvest. He believes that the wine shows everything the vineyard has to offer from the vintage. A bouquet with nice ripeness, earth, blackberry, cherry, cedar, tobacco, and dark couverture chocolate introduces very smooth and round, medium-bodied flavors shot through with very good acidity and very fine tannin. Everything carries through the medium-broad, medium-long finish. The wine has excellent balance and integration and needs another three to five years in the bottle to develop and show at its best. Very Good.
When you leave Guilliams, turn left and proceed to Schweiger on the right.
Next up the hill (left out of Guilliams’ driveway) is Schweiger. Though the property had been planted in the 1870s by the time Fred Schweiger’s parents purchased fifty-three acres in 1961 there was no evidence of those plantings. Fred purchased an additional eight acres in 1961 and began clearing the property for a vineyard toward the end of the 1970s. During that process, redwood stakes for grape vines from the original plantings were discovered. The first of the new vines were planted in 1981 and the first harvest was 1983 but the grapes were sold to others until Schweiger Vineyards was bonded and the first wines under their eponymous label were released from that vintage.
In 1999 the Schweigers’ son, Andrew, returned to the fold as the full time winemaker and production has gradually increased to about 6000 cases annually. When I first visited, the tasting bar was in the basement. Now there is a proper tasting room from the balcony of which is a view over the vineyards. But you still must make an appointment because the staff is not large and the parking area is even smaller and you will need to stop at the gate and push the button for the tasting room.
The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Uboldi Vineyards, Sonoma Valley, $25, 14.8% alc., 564 cases, spent nine months in neutral French oak. It was sur lie for the first six months and was then racked and put back in barrel for an additional three months of aging. The final blend contains 5% Sauvignon Musqué clone. Aromas of grass, green apple, grapefruit, and a hint of melon repeat as flavors with an added touch of peach and an initial creamy texture before the acid brightens everything. It finishes long and broad at the back. There is some astringency and the wine is well balanced, structured, and integrated.
The 2009 Cabernet Franc, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $75, 13.9% alc., 300 cases, contains 7% Cabernet Sauvignon. It opens with cherry, blackberry, currant, spice, leather, smoke, and a hint of greenness. The palate shows more smoke and adds oak, fine tannin, and moderate acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish with very persistent smoky oak. This is Schweiger’s first Cabernet Franc release and if you like lots of smoke in your Franc, try this one. It will be interesting to see if this style continues in future vintages.
The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, spring Mountain District, $58, 15.1% alc., spent thirty-two months in French oak, 45% new. A nose of dark cherry, black tea with a touch of bergamot, chocolate, plum, and some smoky oak introduces nicely bright, medium-bodied flavors of the same with an added touch of spice and fine tannin. The very long finish broadens at the back and shows persistent smoky oak. Easily drinkable now, it will benefit from another three years in the bottle. Well put together. Very Tasty.
The 2007 Dedication, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $85, 15.1% alc., 557 cases, is a blend of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Malbec. The varieties were aged separately in French oak, 75% new, for the first two years and then blended and returned to barrel for an additional eight months. After bottling, the wine was held for two years before release. Plum, cherry, blackberry, currant, dark chocolate, a mineral note, and hints of earth and oak introduce smooth, juicy, medium bodied flavors of the same laced with fine tannin and moderate acidity. The medium-broad, somewhat truncated finish adds sharp spice at the front and some alcohol at the end. A very ripe style, it is nicely balanced and integrated and will benefit from more time in the bottle. Good.
When you leave Schweiger, turn right and go downhill to a driveway on the right with multiple addresses; six are for wineries. While the driveway is initially broad, it narrows to one lane. Drive slowly, pay attention to the signs and addresses and on the left you will find
Sherwin Family Vineyards
Steve and Linda Sherwin purchased this thirty acre property on top of Spring Mountain in 1996. Like the neighboring Schweiger property, it had been planted to grapes in the 1880s but went out of production and most of the vineyards disappeared when Prohibition became the rule. However, there were still some Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc vines intermixed on three acres of the property. Steve cleared more land and planted an additional thirteen acres to the same varieties and built a cleverly designed gravity flow winery under the house. The tasting room is in the house or, if the weather is favorable, outside on the extensive and comfortable patio overlooking the ‘lake’ and vineyards.
Production is still small and you will probably find Linda hosting your tasting so remember to call ahead (707.963.1154) or contact the winery by email: email@example.com
The 2010 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, $40, 12.5% alc., 200 cases, spent eleven months in French oak, 50% new, 50% neutral. Soft aromas of sweet lemon, pear, and apple continue as flavors with oak underneath, moderate acidity, and a touch of astringency before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated, it will be popular.
The nv Cellar Scraps, 6 Platinum Reserve, Spring Mountain District, $55, 15.1% alc., 300 cases, is a blend based upon the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The blend changes every year. The current release is about 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Syrah. Aromas of smoky cherry, raspberry, sweet cranberry and blackberry introduce bright, lively flavors of the same plus an added earthy note and fine tannin. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long with a persistent smoky note and a touch of alcohol. Intriguing and nicely put together. The Syrah is from the Hamilton Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley.
The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, Spring Mountain District, $90, 15.1% alc., was aged in new French oak for twenty-two months. It is very ripe and opens with cherry, blackberry, cassis, chocolate syrup, boysenberry, and smoky oak. All repeat as fairly rich flavors with the additions of spice, nice acidity, and fine tannin before a medium-broad and medium-long. The fruit covers the alcohol and keeps the wine from being hot. Well put together. Good.
The 2007 Syrah, [Hamilton Vineyard], Dry Creek Valley, $70, 15.4% alc., was aged in French oak, 50% new. A big, very ripe nose of chocolate fudge, cherry, baked blackberry, spice, and smoky oak. Round, smooth flavors of the same with peppery spice at the sides are laced with a significant amount of soft tannin and moderate acidity. The long finish broadens at the back. Well done in a big, ripe style.
When you leave Sherwin Family, turn left and go to the end of the drive to and press the button to call the tasting room to be let in.
Barnett’s first vintage was one hundred cases in 1989. It now produces about 6,000 cases annually with two Cabernets Sauvignon and Petit Verdot coming from its Spring Mountain vineyards and another Cabernet Sauvignon and other varieties made with purchased grapes.
The wines are elegant and refined and made in small quantities. Here are notes on five of the current releases.
The 2011 Chardonnay, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Carneros, $35, 14.1% alc., 855 cases. Aged in French oak, 20% new, for eleven months opens with oar, pear, apple, and a floral note. The fruit is lush on the palate with nice acidity and light oak and a bit of tannin. The finish is long and medium-broad. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty.
The 2011 Pinot Noir, Tina Marie Vineyard, Green Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, $35, 13.5% alc., 660 cases, was aged in 40% new French oak for eleven months. Aromas of cherry, cranberry, strawberry, and a touch of oak repeat as flavors accented with fine tannin and nice acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Well integrated, balanced, and structured. Very Tasty.
In contrast, the 2011 Pinot Noir, Savoy Vineyard, Anderson Valley, $55, 13.5% alc., 530 cases, has an almost explosive nose of ripe cherry and strawberry with oak floating through. On the palate, the same fruit is juicy with lovely mouth feel, very light tannin and excellent acidity and finish long and medium-broad. Well structured, balanced, and integrated. Very Good.
The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District, $75, 14.2% alc., 914 cases, spent twenty-two months in French oak, 70% new. Aromas of blackberry, cassis, cherry, violets, and a hint of mineral introduce flavors of the same plus some licorice, raspberry, and vanilla laced with fine, tooth coating tannin and good acidity. Everything carries through the long, medium-broad finish. The overall impression is juicy, fresh fruit in a fairly big bodied wine with only a hint of Spring Mountain earth. Well put together, it needs several more years in the bottle to develop and show at its best. Good.
The 2010 Petit Verdot, Spring Mountain District, $65, 14.2% alc., 120 cases, $65, 14.2% alc., 120 cases, is inky dark with a nose of black fruit, cherry and blackberry, plus spice. Bright, spicy, juicy flavors are more red than black and are shot through with fine tannin and great acidity before a long, broad finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Good.
The road up Howell Mountain is wider and an easier drive than that up Spring Mountain. The AVA covers more area and there are many more wineries to visit. At the same time, rather than the wineries all off either side of any single road, most are on side roads and rather than a sign out front there may only be an address on a post or mail box. It much easier to miss a turn or drive past an entrance or find yourself turned around with no idea of exactly where you are. You can’t really get lost but good map or GPS unit will help. Still, when you make an appointment, you may wish to ask that the winery send you directions. But just because you may need to search a bit harder to reach a particular winery; a visit to the Howell Mountain wineries is well worth the time and effort.
There are number of wineries on the roads that spread out in various directions from the small town of Angwin, population just over 3000, where if you missed lunch you can find something to eat. In contrast to Spring Mountain, on Howell Mountain there are places to stay, a local school district, and even Pacific Union College, a small liberal arts school affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. And if you are low on fuel, there are gas stations where you can also ask for directions if you forgot your map.
Rather than the distinct earthy character of Spring Mountain wines, Howell Mountain wines tend to be bigger, firmer, and often riper and you will find varieties like Zinfandel that are not common on Spring Mountain. Also, many of the wineries produce some or even most of their wines from vineyards that are not on the mountain. This gives you the opportunity to compare the differences they achieve with fruit from the valley and fruit from the mountain.
Most of the wineries are small, many don’t have formal tasting rooms, and an appointment is almost always necessary. It is even necessary for some of the larger ones. Also, on Howell Mountain you will find wineries that have new facilities where the architecture rivals that of some of the more distinctive wineries on the valley floor.
Notes on a few of the Howell Mountain vintners follow, basically starting at the top of the mountain and going downhill.
Almost at the end of Summit Lake Road is Black Sears with a winery in one building, an office next door, and a residence. You will need an appointment even to insure that someone is available to host your visit at this small operation. There is no “tasting room,” just go to the office.
Jerre Sears and Joyce Black purchased the property in 1979 and married there in 1981. Until 1997 they sold the grapes to others before beginning to make a few hundred cases under their own label. They have now basically turned over operation of the winery to their daughter Ashley and her husband Chris but the winery is still a family operation.
The fruit is organically grown and the wines are worth the effort to find if you like a big, ripe style. If you can’t find them, contact the winery: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2010 Zinfandel, Howell Mountain, $50, 16.1% alc., 380 cases, is very ripe with sweet aromas of black cherry, blackberry, chocolate, plum, and smoke. Flavors of the same plus anise are big and ripe with fine, firm tannin and moderate acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long, nicely persistent finish. This is a fruit bomb style of Zinfandel where the fruit covers the alcohol and prevents the wine from being hot. Drink it now for that fruit. Very Tasty.
When you leave Black Sears, turn left and go back down the road to
Summit Lake Vineyards
On your way to Black Sears you passed an even smaller winery. The vineyards were planted about forty years ago by Robert Brakesman though there were already eight acres of pre-prohibition Zinfandel along with fruit trees on the property when he purchased it in 1971. It had been abandoned for years and needed extensive rehabilitation but the barn and orchard are still there and the wines are well made and distinctive.
The first commercial release was the 1978 Zinfandel. It won a double gold at the California State Fair. Bob had obviously learned how to make top notch wine. He now shares farming duties with his son and daughter and the wines each carry the name of a grandchild.
When you visit, Heather will probably host your tasting at the dining room table because this is a relaxed, friendly place making small quantities highly desirable, bargain priced wines. But remember, an appointment is a must.
The 2008 Zinfandel, Howell Mountain, $30, 14.8% alc., 270 cases, spent 24-30 months in mostly American but with a small amount of French oak. It is nicely ripe with raspberry, cherry, briar, and a touch of oak on the nose which explodes from the glass. Round, firm flavors of the same plus smoke, leather, and a bit more oak are laced with fine, round tannins and good acidity. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. Well balanced, structured, and integrated, it drinks nicely now but will benefit from another three years in the bottle. Good.
The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Emily Kestrel, Howell Mountain, $60, 14.9% alc., 280 cases, spent 24-30 months in mostly French oak, 20-30% new. Aromas of blackberry, black cherry, boysenberry, and touches of chocolate and smoky oak introduce rich, nicely dense flavors of the same with very fine, tooth coating tannin and good acidity. The finish is long and medium-broad. This is a big mountain fruit Cab’ that is well put together and will benefit from another three to five years of bottle age. Good.
The 2003 Clair Riley’s Private Reserve Zinfandel Port, Howell Mountain, $45/375 ml., 19.9% alc., 220 cases, was fortified with neutral spirits while the wine was still in contact with the skins. It has only 7% residual sugar and that is well balanced with acidity so the wine is not cloying. A bouquet of chocolate, orange marmalade and prune repeats as flavors with the addition of apricot, light, fine tannin, and good acidity. The medium-broad, medium-long finish adds lots of spice. Nicely structured, integrated, and balanced, it should be exceptionally popular. Good.
When you leave Summit Lake, turn left, go to the end of Summit Lake Road, and turn right on White Cottage Road and drive until you get to
Randy Dunn is one of the Howell Mountain pioneers. He and Lori purchased their original fourteen acres in 1978. Five of those acres were planted to vines. The first release was in 1981—100% Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1982, Dunn added a Napa Valley Cabernet Still later additional property was purchased with the addition of forty acres in 1991 but production remains small and the wines are quite distinctive. Currently, the winery releases about 1500 cases of the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and about 2500 cases of the Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon annually. If you appreciate great Cabernet Sauvignon, you should know these wines. Treat yourself and if you can’t make it to the winery and can’t find the wines locally, get on the mailing list. Though the list currently has more names than there are wines available, the wines are sold in a “first come first serve basis” so remember to order as soon as possible when you receive the annual mailing.
Dunn wines have great structure and balance and will age beautifully for years, sometimes for decades. While the current releases do not need as much time as those from the 1980s and have somewhat higher alcohol levels, they still mirror Dunn’s philosophy of low alcohol, age worthy wines. They all spend thirty months in French oak, 85% new.
Notes on some of the wines that are currently available follow.
The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $80, 13.8% alc., opens dark and dense with blackberry, black cherry, currant, chocolate, and light, smoky oak. The same repeat as flavors with an added note of earth and laced with supple tannins and good acidity and finish long and medium-broad. Well balanced, structured, and integrated, it is easily drinkable now, it will be even better with another eight years in the bottle. Very Good. (The Napa Valley designation may be somewhat misleading as the Napa Valley Cab’ contains no more that 15% valley floor fruit. The balance is from Howell Mountain. Still, that 15% yields wines with softer tannins that are more approachable sooner than the Howell Mountain Cab’.)
The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, $102, 13.8% alc., is still closed but has a bouquet of blackberry, cassis, currant, and black cherry accented with a touch of oak before flavors of the same with the additions of cocoa, fine tannin, and good acidity. The long, medium-broad finish adds spice at the front. This is a big, balanced wine with great depth that needs another decade to open, develop, and begin to show at its best. Well structured, integrated, and balanced. Very Good to Excellent.
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, $90, 13.9% alc., is very tight. A nose of floral, cherry, currant, black raspberry, boysenberry, and subtle cedar accent introduces flavors of the same plus cocoa, coffee, fine tannin, and good acidity. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long. This is a big, intense, dark fruited wine and while you can drink it now, it would be a waste. It is very firmly structured and nowhere near ready to reveal it true potential. Give it another ten to fifteen years. The wait will be worth it. Excellent.
From Dunn turn right and continue down White Cottage Road until it makes an S turn and intersects with Friesen Drive on the right. This is a bit tricky because Friesen does not appear to be a street. There is a black gate across the street. Just pull up and it will open. Then proceed along this narrow street until you pass the water company and O’Shaughnessy. The next drive will be
Cimarossa is a relatively new venture begun in the late 1990s by Dino Dina and his wife Corry Dekker who both work in biomedical fields in the Stanford area. This “red hilltop” winery produces four Cabernets Sauvignon and olive oil from estate fruit. If you make an appointment and go, you will get a tour of the vineyards in Cimarossa’s red (of course) ATV so you can get a greater appreciation of the property and get to the tasting room at the top of the property without a long uphill walk.
Cimarossa sells 90% of its wine direct from the winery so if you are interested in this small, up and coming vintner, get on the mailing list. It releases all of its wines in both 750 ml., and 1.5 L., bottles. It also produces extra virgin olive oil.
The first harvest was in 2004. The 2005 Riva di Ponente [Vineyard], Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, $90, 14.9% alc., 150 cases, was not made by the Mia Klein, the current winemaker. What it tasted like upon release, I don’t know but the fruit is cherry, blackberry, chocolate, and plum is light bodied and fading now. That should not occur so quickly with Klein’s wines though only time will tell.
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rian Vineyard, Howell Mountain, $85, 14.3% alc., 138 cases, is made from two vineyard blocks divided by a creek that is lined with olive trees. Still quite closed, it shows cherry, blueberry, blackberry, leather, chocolate, licorice, and hints of mint and tobacco on the nose. All repeat with the additions of smoke, fine, dry tannin, and good acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. Fairly light bodied at present, it is going to take time to develop and open and will need at least five more years in the bottle to begin to show well. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Good.
Quite different is the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Riva di Ponte Vineyard, Howell Mountain, $85, 15.3% alc., 137 cases. Quite ripe aromas of soft chocolate, cherry, blueberry, blackberry and a touch of fennel introduce fairly light bodied flavors of the same balanced on the alcohol and laced with fine, light, smooth tannins and moderate acidity. The broad, medium-long finish adds pepper. Well put together.
When you leave Cimarossa go back the way you came. When you go through the electric gate go straight until you get to Liparita Ave. Turn right and head to Neal.
Neal Family Vineyards
The Neal family has been managing vineyards throughout the Napa Valley since 1968. A winery was added to the family’s portfolio in the 1990s and its first release was a 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon from a vineyard it owned in Rutherford. It now produces wines from vineyards located throughout the valley and from its Howell Mountain property. All of its vineyards are certified organic.
Winemaking is under the direction of Gove Celio, a fifth generation Californian, who has been working at various wineries in both the Sonoma Valley and on Howell Mountain since 1981. He came to Neal after serving as viticulturist and then winemaker at Liparita.
The 2010 Zinfandel, Rutherford Dust Vineyards, Rutherford, $24, 14.7% alc., spent thirteen months in Hungarian oak, 40% new. Aromas of bramble, black raspberry, black cherry, coffee, and cocoa repeat as round, ripe fruit laced with fine tannin and moderate acidity and with the addition of smoky oak. The medium-broad, medium-long finish adds pepper at the sides. Firmly structured, well balanced, and integrated. Tasty.
The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $48, 14.4% alc., was aged in 81% new French oak for twenty-three months. Eighty-four percent of the fruit came from Howell Mountain, the balance from Atlas Peak, Rutherford, and Mt. Veeder. This is a big, powerful mountain fruit Cabernet only slightly moderated by the Rutherford fruit. It has developed a nice bouquet of blackberry, cassis, black cherry, chocolate, blueberry, smoky oak, and a touch of earth. Medium bodied but intense flavors of the same are shot through with fine, gripy tannin and moderate acidity before a medium-broad, medium-long finish. You can drink it now but it will benefit from more time in the bottle. Try to hold off for another three years. Well structured, integrated, and balanced.
The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford Dust Vineyard, Napa Valley, $75, 14.7% alc., 259 cases, was matured in new French oak for twenty-four months. This is the third release of this wine and it shows lovely blackberry, cherry, currant, plum, blueberry, black raspberry, unsweetened chocolate, and smoky oak aromas tat repeat on the palate accented with very fine tannin and nice acidity. The finish is long, medium-broad, and persistent. Well integrated, balanced, and structured, it is drinking well now but should be even nicer with more time in the bottle. Good.
In contrast, the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Fifteen-Forty, Napa Valley, $75, 15% alc., 400 cases, is from a vineyard on the east flank of Howell Mountain but at 1,365 feet elevation it is just below the 1400’ boundary for the Howell Mountain AVA. The wine was aged in new French oak for twenty-eight months and opens with cedar, cigar box, leather, blackberry, black cherry, cassis, and smoke on the nose. All repeat as flavors with the addition of unsweetened chocolate and everything balanced on fine, tooth coating tannin and moderate acidity. It finishes medium-broad and medium-long with persistent blackberry and smoky oak. Overall, it is a wine with dense fruit and good balance and structure. (Interestingly, on Howell Mountain vineyards that face northeast ripen about thirty days before vineyards with other exposures.)
The 2008 Petite Syrah, Rutherford Dust Vineyard, Rutherford, $35, 15.5% alc., 450 cases,
was aged for twenty-five months in French oak, 70% new. This is a big, intense Petite from vines planted in 1906. It introduces itself with jammy fruit: black raspberry, boysenberry, chocolate, cocoa, and licorice on the nose. Smooth flavors of the same but with more prominent licorice are laced with significant tannin and nice acidity before a long finish that broadens at the back. It is lighter bodied than the nose might suggest and the alcohol that lightens it is well covered by the fruit. Nicely put together.
From Neal, go back to S. White Cottage Ave. and turn right and drive until you reach
Grapes were first planted in 1877 on what is now the Ladera property. The original owners Jean Brun and Jean V. Chaix who had emigrated from France named the vineyard Nouveau Medoc. They built the winery building in 1886 and its outer walls now enclose a completely new interior that preserves the original gravity flow design with the grapes entering on the top floor and the wine made and barreled on the first floor.
The original winery with its thirty-inch thick stone walls continued to operate until Prohibition “Noble Experiment” forced it to close. It remained closed through the 1980s. The current owners, Pat and Anne Stotesbery who ran a cow-calf operation in Montana, purchased the property in 1996 and gutted the interior of the winery because it had deteriorated and could not serve as modern facility. They then rebuilt it while leave the interior intact.
New Zealand native Jade Barrett is the winemaker and when not seeing to his responsibilities as husband and duties as a member of the Santa Rosa Rugby Club, he makes Ladera’s wines. Though best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Ladera also produces a blend of Bordeaux varietals and a Sauvignon Blanc, all from estate fruit.
In addition to the winery, the entire Ladera property covers 185 acres of which eighty-one are planted to vineyards. There are also extensive gardens and Ladera offers both the opportunity to taste its wines and to tour the property, both by appointment only.
Seventy-eight percent of the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Howell Mountain, $25, 13.5% alc., 946 cases, was fermented in French oak (10% new, 12% neutral); the balance was made in stainless steel. The wine was aged sur lie with bâtonnagefor six months. Aromas of floral, lemon, green apple, lime peel, and grass continue as flavors and finish medium-broad and somewhat truncated. Nicely juicy and well put together.
The 2008 High Plateau Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, $75, 14.1% alc., is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot. Cherry, blackberry, chocolate, cassis, leather, and smoky oak on the nose introduce bright, juicy, fairly light bodied flavors of the same accented with fine tannin and nice acidity before a long, broad finish. Well balanced, structured, and integrated. Very Tasty.
The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, $75, 14.1% alc., spent twenty-two months in French oak. A big, rich, deep nose of blackberry, black cherry, currant, cassis, boysenberry, and a note of smoky oak repeats as flavors laced with fine, smooth tannin and nice acidity. Everything carries through the long, very broad finish where some spice appears. Well integrated, balanced, and structured, it is an enjoyable drink now but will be even better if you can wait another few years. Very Good.
The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, $100, 14.8% alc., spent twenty-one months in French oak, 49% new, has be rereleased. It has a big, rich bouquet of blackberry, chocolate, cherry, blueberry, and plum. The palate adds soft spice, good acidity, and fine tannin. The nicely dense, medium-broad, medium-long finish adds licorice. It is drinking well now and should continue to do so for several more years.
From Ladera proceed down S.White Cottage until it intersects with Howell Mountain Road and turn left. Cade will be a short distance up the hill on your left.
Cade is part of the PlumpJack group that includes three wineries: PlumpJack, Cade, and Odette Estate. Odette in a new addition. PlumpJack purchased the Steltzner winery building, production facility and 49 acres of vineyard property. It is currently being renovated but the tasting room is open by appointment. But back to Cade.
The winery was founded in 2005 and occupies and outstanding architectural complex designed by Juan Carlos Fernandez working with Anthony Biagi who was then the winemaker. The facility is LEED certified and even if you don’t like wine, it is worth visiting for the design and the spectacular view. Just try to make your appointment for a clear day or you may see nothing but fog. If you enjoy well crafted wines, you can decide whether they, the architecture or the views are the highlight.
Being part of the PlumpJack group means that it has access to fruit from Howell Mountain and from a number of vineyards in diverse areas of Napa Valley. Thus, while the winery is located on Howell Mountain, it produces wines from other areas all in a PlumpJack style.
The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Estate, Oakville,$44, 14.2% alc., 507 cases, contains 13% Viognier and 10% Semillon. It was fermented in a combination of new and once used French oak and concrete tanks and was aged sur lie with bâtonnage for eleven months in French oak, 30% new. Aromas of oak, grapefruit, pineapple, sweet apple, and floral introduce round textured flavors of the same plus guava and some lime peel but the oak has disappeared and the wine finishes long and medium-broad. Well crafted, balanced, structured, and integrated.
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cade Cuvée, Napa Valley, $60, 15.2% alc., is 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, and 5% Merlot. Aged for eighteen months in French oak, 55% new, it opens with black cherry, cassis, and some oak. Smooth flavors of the same plus notes of tobacco and unsweetened chocolate are laced with tooth coating tannin and moderate acidity before a long finish that broadens at the back. Well put together and light bodied, it may gain some more body with short term aging.
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, $80, 15.2% alc., contains 4% Merlot, and was matured for nineteen months in 80% new French oak. Big, forward, intense, dark aromas of cherry, blackberry, clove, coffee, chocolate, blueberry, and a hint of oak introduce smooth, medium bodied flavors of the same with the oak now smoky and with added hints of vanilla and mint all shot through with lots of fine tannin and fresh acidity. It finishes long and broad at the back. Medium bodied and well balanced, integrated, and structured, it is perfectly crafted in the currently favored clean, very ripe, and immediately approachable style. Good.
From Cade go downhill until you get to
Tom Burgess came to the Napa Valley in 1972 and purchased a small mountain side winery that had been established in the 1870s but, like many, had succumbed to Prohibition. In 1972 there were only a couple dozen wineries in the valley. It had not yet achieved the reputation it has today but he believed in its potential and the future of the site he had chosen. This long time association with the property and others from which he sources grapes has given him insights which can only come from experience.
Like others, Burgess is small and you will need to make an appointment to visit this unique site. In addition to tasting, Burgess offers something most Napa wineries cannot: the chance to purchase older vintages. In fact, currently the list includes Cabernet Sauvignon for every year beginning with 1979. So if you need something special, this may be just the opportunity.
The 2008 Syrah, Estate, Napa Valley, $29, 14.4% alc., was aged in older French and American oak for fifteen months and the final blend contains 10% Grenache. Dark cherry, spice, boysenberry, and dark chocolate on the nose repeat as flavors with an added note of toasty oak and laced with great acidity and fine, smooth tannin. It finishes long and broad. This is a big, rich, well balanced and integrated Syrah. Good.
The 2008 Merlot, Triere Estate Vineyard, Napa Valley, $28, opens with cherry, blackberry, blueberry, a touch of vanilla, and smoky oak. Juicy flavors of the same are accented with fine tannin before a long, broad finish. Fairly lean with great structure and focus, it will complement many foods. Well balanced and integrated. Very Good.
The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, Napa Valley, $38, 14.5% alc., contains 10% each of Cabernet Franc and Merlot and small amounts of Malbec and Petit Verdot. It was aged in French oak, 30% new, for eighteen months. Still closed, it shows cassis, blackberry, black cherry, blueberry, and smoky oak on the nose. All repeat as flavors with more well integrated smoke, nice acidity, and good tannin underneath. Everything carries through the long, medium-broad finish. It needs another few years to develop and drink well but should hold nicely for a decade or more. Good.
The winery opened a 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintage Selection, Estate, Napa Valley, $68, 13% alc. This wine has developed wonderfully and if you like mature Cabernet, it is a bargain. It has plum, dark cherry, anise, and an interesting strawberry note from nose through its long finish. If you have the patience, with its good acidity and well resolved tannins, it will develop even more but is certainly a delicious bottle now. From the time the 1998 wines were released it has been one of my favorite vintages. Unfortunately, some writers had praised the 1997 to almost heavenly levels and denigrated the 1998. I believed they were wrong then and still do. If you have any 1997 around, get a bottle of Burgess’ 1998 and make the comparison yourself.
(Just a note for Geeks: Burgess is located on Howell Mountain but is not within the Howell Mountain AVA because the winery and vineyards are lower than the 1400’ elevation that delimits the AVA.)
As I noted at the beginning, there are many more excellent wineries on Howell Mountain than I have mentioned. There is no need to limit yourself to the ones I have covered. Also, especially because mountain roads are often much narrower than those in the valley and often have no shoulders but always have more curves, you need to pay more attention when driving. Additionally, if you prefer to drink the samples you are poured, please remember that after six or eight samples (especially of the higher alcohol wines) your driving ability will be adversely affected. So take more care. (Six two-ounce samples of 14.0% alcohol wine contains the same amount of alcohol as four ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits.)