There are a fair number of Napa Valley Cab enthusiasts that swear by the intense, concentrated fruit grown within the Howell Mountain AVA, just east of St. Helena on the Valley floor.  I recently had the opportunity to meet proprietor Mike Lamborn and his lovely wife and partner Terry. After a fascinating discussion of Mike’s background and the evolution of his winery from a farming operation (Mike was the third operation to grow grapes on Howell Mountain) to world-class winery with the strong assist of Terry (“Grow Cab instead of Zinfandel, Mike!”), legendary winemaker Heidi Barrett and Mike and Terry’s sons, we finally got around to tasting several terrific Lamborn estate wines.  Although the 2013 vintage of the Lamborn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon was impressive (awarded a terrific 92 by Wine Enthusiast, among others), the true beauty of the full-bodied, intense, tannic Howell Mountain juice came through in the Lamborn Family Vineyards 2008 Howell Mountain Cabernet.  Although the Lamborn conversation and tasting was the first of the day (You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning, and you may quote me!), I don’t know that I tasted a better, more elegant, more nuanced Cab the entire trip to Napa, if not this year to date, than the Lamborn 2008 Howell Mountain Cab.  Deep aromas of blackberry and even a hint of black cherry and cassis began the experience, with an oaked but polished mid-palate, with a smooth, earthy and complex finish that felt like it lasted for 2 minutes.  Evidently Wine Enthusiast agreed with my palate, bestowing a near-perfect 94 rating on the Lamborn 2008 and naming it a Cellar Selection. Originally priced at $100, you may find this beauty at a fine restaurant or quality wine purveyor. Or you can reach out to Mike Lamborn at and tell him the Wine Bargain Sleuth sent you to ask about his great cellar selection Cabs!  Pair mine with a bone-in filet, please, and leave me alone for an hour or two!

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