Food, Wine & Just Good Living With SaucyJoe

It started with a love of food, wine & fun and blossomed into a maddening pursuit of the best recipes, techniques, grills, smokers, wines, crafted beers, rubs, marinades and sauces... We do more than play with our meat though -- we review and discuss all things cooking, drinking, reading, laughing and living at SaucyJoe's.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Top Ten Cabernets of 2005

Ed note: Steve Pitcher is a regular contributor online, and can often be found at The Wine News. Here he reveals his favorite Cabernet Sauvignons of 2005. Also note that we will update this article with pertinent links (as always visit our friends at where you can find many of these gems online.

Last year I made the audacious pronouncement that, based on the performance of Cabernet Sauvignon, California's 2001 vintage had eclipsed the spectacular vintages of 1994, 1997 and 1999 in terms of quality, and was clearly the greatest vintage in the state's history.
Fortunately, in the interim, I haven't been forced to eat those words, which gives me the courage to state unequivocally that vintage 2002 is on a par with 2001 - maybe even a bit better. The wines pretty much speak for themselves, and the proof is in the glass. Two truly great years back to back. It doesn't get much better for lovers of California wine.

If there is a drawback, it's that prices edged up for some of the so-called "trophy" wines of vintage 2002. That's a small consideration for collectors, however, inasmuch as prices remained rather steady for most of the state's wines, and bargains are still to be found.

Cabernet of the Year

Shafer, 2001 Hillside Select, Stags Leap District - $175: The most magnificent Hillside Select ever, perfect in every respect. Intensely aromatic scents of concentrated cassis-black cherry fruit, mild peppery herbaceousness and notes of vanilla and roasted coffee bean. Big, lush and velvety in the mouth with medium-full yet supple tannins. Complex, layered flavors resonate from a deep core of ripe, succulent black fruit enhanced by dark chocolate, dried herbs, vanilla and a certain hillside minerality that extends into the long finish. Powerful, yet exquisitely balanced with fresh acidity. Exciting and appealing to drink now with the stuffing to age gracefully over the next 10 to 15 years. (2,500 cases)

Top Ten Cabernets of the Year

Andrew Geoffrey Vineyards, 2002 Diamond Mountain District - $75: Distinctive nose of briary brambleberry accented with bright blueberry and loamy earthiness. Deeply flavored and viscous with ripe, medium-full tannins, this muscular Cab brims with concentrated dark berry-cassis fruit and finishes with subtle notes of white chocolate and white pepper. (1,660 cases)

Caymus, 2002 Special Selection, Napa Valley - $136: Expressive aromas of sweet, ripe black currant and black cherry laced with mocha, violets, dried herbs and warm spice. Velvety in texture and deeply extracted, offering layers of cassis and blackberry, spice and mocha flavors, along with nicely integrated French oak. Wonderfully proportioned showing firm, fine-grain tannins and an exotic note of freshly crushed sage in the aftertaste. (8,800 cases)

Caymus, 2002 Napa Valley - $70: Attractive, complex nose of cassis, black cherry and freshly crushed berries with notes of nutmeg, cocoa and cedar. Nearly as extracted as the Special Selection, with medium-full tannins and similar flavors of ripe black fruit, spice and creamy oak. An extremely complex wine that unfolds sip after sip, and shows a hint of blueberry in the extended finish. (29,980 cases)

Constant, 2001 Diamond Mountain Vineyard, Diamond Mountain District - $85: Enticing, complex aromas of ripe cassis, black cherry, dark plum and mocha, plus a subtle note of fresh tarragon. Generous and richly textured with bold, extracted flavors of cassis and black cherry tinged by blueberry, oak spice and minerals with medium-full tannins that are ripe and supple. (970 cases)

Dalla Valle, 2002 Napa Valley - $100: Cabernet franc (10%) works its magic in this voluptuous wine. Fragrant and appealing aromas of dark raspberry, cassis, plum and bittersweet chocolate are replicated on the palate, accented by notes of peppery spice and anise. Sweet, rich and chewy in the mouth with supple tannins and refreshing acidity; finishes with a hint of smoke and mint. (900 cases)

Diamond Creek, 2002 Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley - $175: Deep, wonderfully fragrant aromas of cassis, violets and mocha accented with notes of cigar box, vanilla and toasty oak. Rich, luscious and concentrated with medium-full, ripe, velvety tannins and copious black fruit flavors that are amazingly deep and lingering; warm spice and a hint of mint enhance the finish. Built for the long term. (573 cases)

Etude, 2002 Napa Valley - $90: Always exhibiting exquisitely opulent texture, the 2002 is even more impressive on that score than past efforts, and is absolutely irresistible at this early stage of development. Complex, enticing, wildly aromatic nose of mocha, dried lavender, sour cherry and blackberry with a subtle dusting of white pepper. A lush entry engages the palate with delectable flavors suggested by the nose, accented by roasted coffee bean and brown spice; the flavors reach nearly kirsch-like concentration and the ripe, medium-full tannins never intrude. Mocha notes emerge in the extended close. A superbly seamless Cab. (4,500 cases)

Lokoya, 2002 Diamond Mountain District - $120: Intriguing nose of tobacco leaf and subtle green olive, raspberry-cassis fruit, moderately toasty oak, red meat and lead pencil. Complex, ultraplush and concentrated with deep, vibrant flavors that replicate the nose and firm, velvety tannins. An elegant, focused, 100 percent Cab with excellent aging potential over the next 10 to 12 years. (440 cases)

Marston, 2002 Spring Mountain District - $80: The panel awarded the 2001 95 points, yet the '02 is even better. Bursts of mint and blueberry aromas followed by plum, coconut and olive. A prototypical mountain Cab with layers of cherry, plum and mineral flavors that kept improving with air. Polished tannins and crisp acids elevate the hillside fruit. (500 cases) Publisher's Pick - BL

Von Strasser, 2002 Post Vineyard, Diamond Mountain District - $60: Forward, enticing aromas of toasty oak, red meat, cassis-black cherry fruit and dried lavender. Very complex and concentrated with luscious blackberry-cassis fruit tinged with dried herbs, subtle mocha and ripe, supple tannins. (1,900 cases)

Other Outstanding Cabernets

Cakebread, 2002 Dancing Bear Ranch, Howell Mountain - $75 (700 cases)

Chappellet, 2002 Pritchard Hill Estate Vineyard,Napa Valley - $120 (1,300 cases) - BL

Chateau St. Jean 2000 Reserve, Sonoma County- $90 (334 cases) - BL

Robert Craig, 2002 Howell Mountain- $50 (1,200 cases)

DiGiulio, 2002 Diamond Mountain District - $85 (220 cases)

Duckhorn, 2002 Napa Valley - $60 (7,653 cases)

Far Niente, 2002 Oakville - $110 (8,100 cases)

Hanna, 2001 Bismark Mountain Vineyard,Sonoma Valley - $61 (635 cases) - BL

Hartwell, 2002 Stags Leap District - $115 (740 cases)

Ladera, 2002 Howell Mountain - $65 (710 cases)

La Jota, 2002 Anniversary Release Howell Mountain- $90 (1,000 cases)

Cliff Lede, 2002 Stags Leap District- $50 (1,622 cases) - BL

Monticello, 2002 Tietjen Vineyard, Rutherford- $50 (500 cases)

Nickel & Nickel, 2002 Vogt Vineyard,Howell Mountain - $75 (1,112 cases)

Peacock Family, 2002 Spring Mountain District- $60 (596 cases)

Joseph Phelps, 2002 Backus Vineyard, Oakville- $175 (800 cases)

Piña Cellars, 2001 Howell Mountain- $54 (530 cases)

Provenance, 2002 Rutherford - $35 (16,636 cases)

Quixote, 2001 Stags' Leap Ranch, Napa Valley- $60 (480 cases/screwcap)

Shafer, 2002 Napa Valley - $54 (7,000 cases)

Signorello, 2002 Padrone, Napa Valley- $95 (270 cases) - BL

White Cottage Ranch, 2002 Howell Mountain- $60 (476 cases)

Note: For the first time, wines rated and described by The Wine News' BuyLine panel were considered for inclusion, but only those also tasted separately by me became candidates for the final list. Wines that carry the initials "BL" indicate a BuyLine selection, and include the panel's notes. All other wines are my selections alone, painstakingly culled from hundreds of tasting notes recorded throughout the year. While some of the wines were tasted blind, the majority were not. Publication deadlines precluded consideration of any wines released after October 28.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home