Ruby red in the glass, this tantalizing blend signals its arrival with precociously heady aromas of black cherry and plum, complemented by hints of lightly toasted anise and baking spices. True to the storied upper reaches of Howell Mountain, flavors of ripe blackberry, black tea and peppercorn give way to a rustic mid-palate, with a pleasing acidity, and notable structure in-play. Aged 26 months in 31% new French Oak, the wine's oak framing reveals what comes when skilled handling is deftly applied to fruit from this heralded appellation. The result reveals a teasing, but feisty and focused Hillside Blend, whose muscularity and nimbleness present a beguiling, layering of juxtapositions.
The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Hillside Blend comes across as a bit fleshier than it did last year. Still in barrel, the 2014 is not perfectly representative today. Given how the other wines in this tasting show, I expect all the 2014 needs some oxygenation to clean up the aromatics.