Cain Five, whose precipitous vineyards high on Spring Mountain have been carefully nurtured by the intellectual and erudite Chris Howell for over 20 years now, continues to fly just under the radar of the trophy hunting Californian wine purchaser. After all, they don't chase points and they don't make blockbusters. Theirs is an endeavour of a more subtle nature. Which is probably why we’re such big fans.
The most recent releases are the 2008s, a year which Cain describe as ‘dramatic’, Northern California experiencing ‘frost, rain, fire, smoke, heat and rain (again).’ Tasting them this morning we were struck by their refinement and sleek grandeur. The Cain Concept is markedly different from Cain Five. It display’s its benchland origins proudly on its sleeve. Sweet of fruit, yet never opaque in character, it is juicy, flowing and expressive Napa Cabernet with the complexity to be enjoyed now, but the verve to cellar for up to a decade.
Cain Five 2008 is a more serious beauty. Darker of character and with a complex gravelly minerality, notes of smoke, rosemary, dark chocolate and cassis slowly emerge in nuanced layers, each building gracefully on the last. There is extra control here, by way of ripe yet dry (yet not drying) tannins, which help this, for all its savoury, dark fruit, leave the mouth feeling energised and refreshed. Hard to resist now, but with plenty of untapped future potential.
Both wines are currently in the UK and ready for immediate delivery.
Huffington Post - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-haskel/chris-howell-cain-vineyar_b_3586519.html