The $5000 Cellar, Part 2

Continuing on with careful selections of Syrah, Cabernet and Nebbiolo


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California is the home of pure Cabernet Sauvignon, and while I can’t say that I love much of what comes out of Napa Valley these days, the best of Napa is still as good as the best there is. Howell Mountain is my sweet spot for Cabernet. It’s a place where the fruit gets ripe yet retains some savoriness, expressing earth, herb and even vaguely vegetal notes along with masses of black currant fruit.

Over the years, few producers have done better with Howell Mountain fruit than Randy Dunn. Today, he might very well sit alone at the top of the heap. Randy’s Howell Mountain bottling is legendary among the California cognoscenti, who also know that the Dunn Napa Bottling, which is roughly half the price of the Howell Mountain, is actually 85% or so Howell Mountain fruit!

These are powerful wines that demand time in the cellar to polish off formidable tannins, but boy are they well balanced. Plus, they develop real complexity over time, a rarity for modern Napa Valley Cabernet!

Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $60

Recent great vintages include: 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Giacomo Pevere
    Hand of Snooth
    806471 999

    I can just quote your nebbiolo picks! I love that bottles.
    Price for Ar. Pe Pe and Produttori del Barbaresco are pretty high in USA, in Italy they are around 35€ and 25€, pretty good price for Burlotto 40/45€ here.

    Mar 01, 2012 at 1:22 PM

  • What a great Web site!!

    Mar 01, 2012 at 3:29 PM

  • Snooth User: JonDerry
    Hand of Snooth
    680446 3,110

    Great article Greg, have been looking for Nebbiolo in this price range...

    Mar 02, 2012 at 12:49 AM

  • "they’re going to be bangin’ wines."

    Ah, "bangin'".

    Just the description we were seeking for the fine wines we hope to cellar...

    Mar 02, 2012 at 3:58 AM

  • Thank you for using my photo for your article, Arrington Vineyards in Tennessee, which is were this photo was take, is a wonderful place to enjoy a good glass of wine.

    Mar 02, 2012 at 10:22 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    Thanks everyone for your kind words. This series is a whole lot of fun to day as I get to live vicariously through my words. Now I have to figure out how to follow up!

    Mar 04, 2012 at 10:32 AM

  • Snooth User: osca1600
    974102 1

    Dead simple to create a $5K cellar of superb wine, simply buy some sequential years of Penfolds Grange, Bin 707, Henschke Hill of Grace and perhaps some Mt Mary Quintet and there you are. Given that the list price for Grange (say current vintage) normally starts at around $400, with the addition of back vintages and/or the super premium vintages going for between $500-1000 per bottle, Hill of Grace at around the $300 mark, Penfolds 707 and Mt Mary for between $150-200 per bottle, one's $5K will be spent very quickly.

    On the other hand you could moderate the expense by say purchasing some Penfold Bin 389, 407, RWT etc and perhaps some Wynns Michael Shiraz et al for sub $100 per bottle instead of purely the above and one would get a little more variety and a few more into the $5K cellar.

    Mar 15, 2012 at 9:02 PM

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