As someone who reviews a lot of California Cabernets—nearly 800 in the past year alone—I know how hard it is to sum up the character and quality of a given vintage.
There’s a lot of diversity out there in wine styles. Some is due to variations in the growing season. Some is due to winemakers’ preferences. Some is due to winemakers’ skill. When it comes to the 2005 vintage, I think all three elements come into play. Many of my favorites have been appearing in our tasting highlights, and many more will be unveiled in our Nov. 15 issue, which is anchored by our Cabernet coverage.
2005 ended up being a surprisingly good vintage, and I say surprising in the context that early on, as the grapes were being picked and the wines were being made, winemakers weren’t terribly excited about 2005. They were more alarmed about the size of the crop, since volume often means that it’s harder to get all the grapes ripe. But in the end the long, cool season worked out well for the wines.
Turns out there is plenty of flavor and depth and complexity in the 2005s. But it’s a sleeker, trimmer, perhaps better-structured year than say 2004. The 2005s are not as ripe as those of 2004 (and therefore lower in alcohol), but there is plenty to like in wines from both years.
I’m always interested to learn other critics’ take on the wines. I would expect critics to disagree over particular wines and general styles.
Given that hundreds of Napa Cabernets are produced each year, there’s a lot of room for different styles. It’s important to remember that one or two examples—a few exceptions where people might disagree on quality—are not representative of the bigger picture on which we should be focused.
John Wilen — Texas — August 26, 2008 4:19pm ET
Jim Gallagher — Jim Gallagher — August 26, 2008 4:33pm ET
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — August 26, 2008 7:16pm ET
Michael Myette — Sacramento, CA USA — August 26, 2008 7:29pm ET
Mary Constant — Calistoga — August 26, 2008 8:35pm ET
Fred Brown — August 26, 2008 8:36pm ET
Marc Oconnor — August 26, 2008 8:43pm ET
Justin Renard — Tokyo, Japan — August 27, 2008 12:34pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — August 27, 2008 12:49pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — August 27, 2008 12:57pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — August 27, 2008 1:03pm ET
Mary Constant — Calistoga — August 28, 2008 2:36pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — August 28, 2008 2:48pm ET
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