New Release: Cain Five 2013

New Release: Cain Five 2013
The latest addition to the Wine Advocate team, William Kelley, cites Cain Five as one of his top five wines of the legendary 2013 Napa Vintage.

Being ranked alongside Harlan Estate, Dunn, Spottswoode and Corison puts Cain Five amongst some of Napa’s most exalted names. Situate that list in the context of the legendary 2013 vintage and you have a wine that deserves to be in any serious long term cellar.

But then, Cain is a pretty serious wine. It is the product of a beautiful amphitheatre of vines high up on Spring Mountain, brought to life by one of Napa’s most thoughtful and philosophical vignerons. Sophisticated and honest in equal measure, Cain is absolutely unique.

A classic Bordeaux blend aged in French oak barrels with minimal ‘winemaking’ Cain Five delivers a texture and complex, often savoury, aromatic profile all of its own. Primarily this is down to the vineyard which is a patchwork of different elevations and aspects, sat high up above St Helena, right on the very edge of the Mayacamas range. Winds are strong, nights are cool and the grapes don’t always coast to ripeness. This is viticulture in extremis – the kind that produces so many of the world’s most exciting bottles. The vines are farmed organically and biodynamically so cover crops are encouraged and the natural biodiversity of the land is seen as inherent to the quality of the final bottles.

In the cellar, Chris is a pragmatist with very little interest in any of the new found methods of manipulation. Trained in Bordeaux he makes no bones about the fact that his wines are not the polished, high octane super cuvees that some critics seem to seek - instead these are complex, erudite, age worthy wines that tell the story of a wild mountain vineyard. Often unbridled in their youth they have a remarkable ability to coalesce into savoury, wildly aromatic, textured, deeply engaging wines in maturity.

William Kelley’s Top Five Californian Cabernets of 2013

“A fragrant but savoury bouquet of perfumed blackberry, rich earth, fennel seed and cigar tobacco leads to a wine with lovely cut, vibrancy and concentration, structured around firm but refined 2013 tannins. Christopher Howell deserves more recognition for the amazing consistency, longevity and sophistication that his wines from this striking Spring Mountain site routinely achieve, as anyone with Cain bottlings in their cellar from the 1980s and 1990s can attest.”

A touch of iodine, sweet horse sweat, iron , gravel, earth and cocoa on this unbridled, almost savoury nose. Sliding across the palate with wonderful fine grained texture, really complex fruit, dark earthy exceptionally fine sweet tannins, a big volume of earthy mid palate fruit but also restraint and no suggestion of sweetness. Cocoa nib, olive and dark cassis fruit on the finish. We just love the texture and release as this floods the palate while also maintaining a savoury earthy poise. One of the richest Cain’s we can remember, but entirely in the Cain mould. Superb.

Please note that there is currently no stock available