A Vanguard on Howell Mountain

Today’s Story: CADE Estate Winery

CADE, the brainchild of Gavin Newsom (governor of California), Gordon Getty (son of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty), and John Conover, blossomed into reality in 2005 with the trio’s need to expand upon PlumpJack, their winery in Oakville. The winery encompasses 54 acres at an elevation of 1,800 feet on Howell Mountain and took roughly four years to complete, with arguably its crowning achievement being that it is the first LEED Gold certified winery in Napa Valley. Two years of planning went into the winery before construction started in 2007, though many of the changes originated in the vineyards where the team converted to organic farming. Like many wineries nowadays, the organic farming approach came about at CADE as a desire to protect the land while growing fruit free from harsh chemicals in an effort to produce higher-quality, truer wines.

The architecture of the winery demands particular attention, as it is quite modern and is a stark contrast to the surrounding views, vineyards, and forests. Made largely of concrete, recycled steel, and glass (and no wood), the winery displays captivating variation between both gentle lines and aggressive rectangular angles. Sticking to their goal of attaining LEED Gold certification, the team utilized recycled products (including blue jeans) for insulation in the tasting room and situated solar panels on the roof to provide electricity. Both the fermentation room and caves are naturally insulated to help reduce production materials and environmental impact. Definitely check out pictures of the winery here on their website.

Fun fact: The CADE name is a tribute to Shakespeare, who referred to wine casks shipped from Bordeaux to England as “cades.”

Today’s Wine: 2009 Napa Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon

88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot; 15.2% ABV

The 2009 Napa Cuvée is deep purple/ruby in color and almost entirely opaque. I let this decant for about 30 minutes, however the wine seemed to blossom right out of the gates. The nose showcases aromas of blackberry, blueberry, mixed wild red berries, cigar box, graphite, black pepper, chocolate, and oak. This does still show a little heat on the nose as well, but it does blow off. Once in the mouth, the wine displays notes of black plum, blackcurrant, crushed blueberry, tobacco, damp rocky soil, ground green herbs, mocha, and a hint of vanilla. This is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium dusty tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $70. This is a good price-point, as I think the complexity this wine shows helps make it a fairly solid value play (especially next to their Howell Mountain bottling). Pair this with steak or a good burger.

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