When is being “out”, in? When you enjoying Outpost wines of course! Pulled this out of the cellar this week to be enjoyed with family. I became acquainted with Outpost Wines over 14 years ago and knew immediately they were on a path to destiny. Outpost is located near the top of Howell Mountain at 2,200 feet elevation.
The owners Frank and Kathy Dotzler, started Outpost in 1998 on this sloped hillside comprising 28 acres. What they have accomplished with their Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Grenache, etc., is nothing short of remarkable. With Thomas Rivers Brown at the helm of the winemaking, the wines continue to garner acclaim. Dry farming and being totally organic are the mantra at Outpost. Outpost was sold to AXA Millésimes, the wine division of the French insurance giant on July 23, 2018. I have not been there since they sold the winery.
Going back to their 2009 Cabernets, some of the ratings were in the “93 range“. Even then the potential of their Cabernet Sauvignon was ready to blossom. On their 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon True they received a score of 99 points from Parker. This vintage was aged in 90% new French oak and only 250 cases were produced. The “step-sister” Cabernet Sauvignon Estate was rated 95+. In a more recent vintage they received a 100 point score!
I had spent some time with Frank previously discussing their Grenache and whole stem clustering soaking which produced a wonderful spicy and peppery bouquet. I am now a “major advocate” of whole cluster soakings! The Zinfandel is a hearty and mouthful Zin. They produce around 1,100 cases a year and is a force to be reckoned. Both their True Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache have consistently made my Top Wines of the Year since 2015.
On property they produce other wines and would encourage a visit. Not only are the views spectacular, the hospitality will astound you. The tasting room can be both inside and outside, pending weather conditions.
The 2010 Outpost Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
The wine on the eyes was a deep brick red with a medium heavy viscosity. Blueberry, pepper and fresh violets on the nose. On the palate, it burst forth with vanilla pipe tobacco, licorice and both blue and black fruits. The tannins have soften and Howell Mountain minerality lingers on the finish. Parker may years ago called their pricing, the “least ego driven” in Napa Valley—a rarity in today’s fine wine market. That said this 2010 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon retails today for $210 to $225 in a recent search.