2009 was a very strong year for Howell Mountain. A nice, early start to the year coupled with our usual warm summer nights allowed us to harvest before any of the big rains that plagued the end of the vintage. As the second consecutive drought year in Napa, it’s an incredibly concentrated vintage in all senses. The ’09 Black Sears is darker than ’08 with a more black-fruited character, plenty of hillside spice and a structure that will require some cellar time. The density of the fruit stands up to the tannin nicely making for a balanced wine that features multiple layers of crushed rock, blue and black fruits, graphite and white flowers.