La Jota Vineyard Co. was founded in 1898 by Frederick Hess, an immigrant from Switzerland, who established a German-language newspaper in San Francisco. Hess purchased 327 acres of a Mexican land grant—Rancho La Jota—on Howell Mountain to plant vineyards. He built a stone winery from volcanic ash rock quarried on the property (a ghost winery) and his first fermentation tanks also came from Redwoods on the estate.
A gorgeous plot of land, La Jota Vineyard lies high upon a volcanic plateau, looking east over Napa Valley about 1500 ft above sea level. Surrounded by pine, fir, oak and madrone trees, the estate stands out because of its cool, windswept climate. The estate also stands out for their incredible quality of wine– always amongst the Napa Valley’s elite, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen the plot of land they have to work with.
It’s there that superstar winemaker, Chris Carptenter (previously at Cardinale) has been making some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc off the mountainous terrain. He does so with laser-like Napa Cabernets that have multiple layers, structured tannins and tremendous aging potential.
The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon earned two 95 point scores from Wine Enthusiast (who also gave it a Cellar Selection) and Wine Spectator, while Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gave it a 95+ while all three raved about the wines aging potential. This is a collector’s item for sure. One of the premiere Napa Valley wineries in one of the best spots in one of the best places to grow Cabernet in the world. $125/btl. Only 24 btls to go around.
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95+ Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
Blended of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Cabernet Franc, 7.5% Merlot, 6% Malbec and 3% Petit Verdot, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain has a deep garnet-purple color and nose of warm cassis, black berry pie and mulberries with touches of cedar, red roses and cloves plus a touch of cigar boxes. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has a great core of black and blue fruit layers framed by firm, ripe tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long.
95 Points (Cellar Selection), Wine Enthusiast
Exotic herb and floral tones start off this brawny full-bodied wine. Plum and black currant flavors underscore bristling acidity and a well-built tannic structure, as secondary characteristics of sage, cedar and oak emerge. This should be put away and enjoyed 2025–2030.
95 Points, Wine Spectator
This is vivid and beautifully rendered, with a dense yet racy core of unadulterated cassis, boysenberry and blackberry puree flavors, flecked with anise, light bramble and polished ganache notes. The long finish shows a great tug of tarry earth while the fruit drives on. Best from 2021 through 2040.