Napa Cabernet drinkers should be focusing on top-rated wines from recent vintages, especially the 2003s and 2004s that are making their way to the market right now. Though '03 wasn't a great year, some great wines were made. There's some great '04s, too, but like the '03s, they're only reaching a limited number of markets. So which wines you have access to will depend on where you live.
While 2004 produced a small crop, 2005 more than made up for that, though few '05s have made it to the market yet. Many wineries and vineyards had record crops, which led to an abundance of wine. That means that some wineries will beef up their secondary labels with some pretty good juice, while others will sell what they can’t use in bulk, and that gives someone else the opportunity to make a damn good wine.
I’ve heard some winemakers say they’ve sold 25 percent to 40 percent of their Cabernet on the bulk market; in this instance, wine is often purchased by négociants for their labels or other wineries, and used in their blends, often resulting in some excellent values for the consumer.
Some of these wines are already being sold with the 2005 vintage on the label. Prices are generally well below the market norm—a giveaway that the wine was bought in bulk and blended. If you can find a few of the gems, they're worth buying by the case.
Of course, the big-name wineries that sell off their wines don’t want that publicized by other brands, so little is said about the sourcing for these new labels that pop up in abundant years like 2005. And virtually every winery declassifies some wine that doesn’t fit into their scheme for one reason or another.
In lesser years, these value labels are less appetizing. But in a great year they can be rewarding, both for their quality and price. I'll be reporting on 2005s that fill the bill shortly, in the magazine and online.
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — March 21, 2007 7:00pm ET
Steve Barber — Clayton, CA. — March 21, 2007 7:03pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — March 21, 2007 7:53pm ET
Roy Piper — Napa, CA. — March 21, 2007 11:35pm ET
Al Larson — San Carlos,CA — March 23, 2007 5:24pm ET
Al Larson — San Carlos,CA — March 23, 2007 5:26pm ET
Joshua Masur — Redwood City, CA — May 9, 2007 1:43pm ET
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