Following yesterday's blog, I have some more thoughts on California Cabernet. Specifically the 2004 vintage: The quality surprised me. Pleasantly, I might add.
When I first formally reviewed the wines out of barrel two years ago, I liked them and thought 2004 would be an excellent year, based on the growing season, etc. But the wines were more subdued than expressive or showy at that stage in their development, and I wasn’t convinced 2004 would be a great vintage.
Something changed with the wines, however, and the winemakers I’ve talked with in recent weeks say the development of the 2004s caught them by surprise as well. Develop they did.
All in all, 2004 was a comparatively easy year for ripening. While shy at first, the wines now reveal greater depth, flavor and elegance. Genevieve Janssens, winemaker at Robert Mondavi Winery, told me that ’04 reminds her of 1991—a relatively mild, uneventful year, which is what winemakers love. I agree. For me, 1999 was a bit cooler.
Wines change. Sometimes they get better in barrel and sometimes they don’t. Winemakers' perspectives about vintages also change. Back when I wrote my 2004 barrel tasting report, some winemakers were calling 2004 a challenging year. But then I suppose every year has its challenges for winemakers.
Bryan Bucari — Baton Rouge, LA — August 10, 2007 4:33pm ET
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