A Newcomer's Old-World Quality
O'Shaughnessy Estate Winery is a relatively new producer that is off to a flying start. Since 1997 owner Betty O'Shaughnessy and winemaker Sean Capiaux have been creating terrific cabernets and merlots on this 35-acre vineyard on Napa Valley's Howell Mountain. They've also crafted a small cuvée of cabernet sauvignon from grapes grown on nearby Mt. Veeder.
2005 Howell Mountain Merlot - Notes of mocha, melted chocolate, smoked herbs, and loads of cherry and black currant fruit dominate this dark ruby/purple full-bodied merlot. Silky tannins and juicy acidity give uplift to this wine, which has a broad, savory mouth feel. Drink it over the next decade. $60
2004 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon - A gorgeous, dense ruby/purple color with a luscious bouquet of black fruits, minerals, sweet jammy strawberries, chocolate, and a subtle touch of oak. Full-bodied, with a chewy texture, good freshness, and a long, heady finish, this is approachable now and should drink well for 15 to 20 years or more. $75
2005 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon - A dark ruby/purple beauty, with a nose of tobacco leaf mixed with black currant, black cherry, new saddle leather, and white chocolate. This wine is full-bodied and powerful. It's drinkable now but promises to be better in three to four years and last for at least 15 or more. $75
2004 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon - This 2004 is a blockbuster. Concentrated notes of black cherry, black currant, flowers, chocolate, and coffee bean accompany high tannins, but the wine has beautiful purity and terrific symmetry. This is another striking cabernet sauvignon from Mt. Veeder that should drink graciously for 20 years or more. $95
2005 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon - A soaring bouquet of smoked meats, black fruits, espresso roast, lavender, and crème de cassis. Gorgeously rich, with high tannins and superb purity and concentration, this is an outstanding wine that may be even better than my score indicates. It should be drinking at its peak between 2010 and 2025. $95
Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.