Mike and Terry Lamborn with John Bell.

Lamborn Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel

O ne of the fun things about Masters Week that I’ve been able to enjoy since I left the newspaper business is meeting some of the interesting people who come here from around the world. With my interest in wine I have especially enjoyed meeting all the wine enthusiasts.

This week brought in Mike and Terry Lamborn, who own Lamborn Family Vineyards in Napa Valley. I met them more than a year ago when a group of friends invited me to help organize a trip to Napa.

One of our stops was the Lamborn property, high on Howell Mountain at the northern end of Napa. It’s a gorgeous spot with great views of the valley. It also happens to be a great place to grow Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

John Black, John Smith and Joe Bowden.

The Lamborns were gracious hosts, showing seven of us around the house, offering some wine while we sat on the patio overlooking the valley, and showing us their vineyard. Mike Lamborn even spent a lot of time showing us how they pruned the grapes because John Dekle from our group grows grapes in Savannah.

The red dirt on Howell Mountain made us feel like we were back in Georgia, and the luscious wine mellowed us out.

John and Dorothy Black, who were on that trip, invited the Lamborns to Augusta for the Masters Tournament, and this year they accepted the invitation. The Lamborns shipped in some of their wine and the Blacks hosted the group who went on the wine-tasting trip and some of their friends.

Mike stayed busy pouring wine and telling stories.

The evening was great fun as about 40-50 guests sampled the Lamborn Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines were incredible, but the Cab blew us all away.

The 2008 vintage is a rich and powerful wine, still coming into it’s own. It should continue to develop for several years. If you have some of this wine, you will want to decant it and let it breathe for a couple of hours.

It has a deep, intoxicating aroma with layers of ripe berry jam and black cherry. Layers of flavor burst in your mouth, constantly changing with each sip. It’s a classic, elegant and powerful Napa Cab.

The Zin was just as good, a deep black raspberry color with aromas of ripe fruit and spice. The silky mouth feel has flavors of raspberry, currants and spice. It’s a big wine, but not overly tannic. It’s a great food wine, not an overbearing fruit bomb like some modern Zins.

The legendary Heidi Barrett is the winemaker for both wines, and her touch shows through. She gained fame as the winemaker for Screaming Eagle, a Napa cult wine that sells for $1,500 a bottle or more, if you are lucky enough to find one.

[scrollGallery id=470]The Lamborns were charming and entertaining, talking about their love of the land and of their family. They clearly love growing the vines and said they leave the winemaking completely to Heidi Barrett.

They have 14 acres planted in Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, with plans to plant another few acres next year.

Mike and his father Bob bought adjacent plots of land at 2,200 feet elevation on Howell Mountain in 1971. The family worked together clearing the land and building houses. Their first vintage was 1982, 100 cases of Zinfandel.

Their first commercial release was 350 cases in 1983. They now average about 900 cases a year of handcrafted Howell Mountain, Estate Grown Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.

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