Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The wine gods have been kind to Napa Cabernet lovers

Given a fair chance, a frog can indeed turn into a prince. I know as I have witnessed this first hand (and still am witnessing such). The frog I speak of is the 2003 vintage of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Upon first impressions back in 2005 and 2006 I had noticed many were plagued with the issues of a troubled and rainy Cabernet harvest. Numerous (in my humble opinion) were insipid and thin, lacking structure and often over acidified and out of balance. The top estates of the Napa Valley are well expected to make good wines even in seemingly ‘off’ years, but coming off of two abysmal vintages like 1998 and 2000, were Cab lovers actually willing spend hard earned cash to find the gems? To date I must have tasted 200+ Cabernet Sauvignons from the 2003 vintage but none have impressed me more than a select few. Karl Lawrence wines are a good bet in an off year and the reserves much more so. I have had a few 2003 Karl Lawrence Dr Crane reserves that have been simply spectacular, and last nights 2003 Gemstone Yountville was no different (see below). There are some others in my list of maybe ten or so and the QPR of the group being the 2003 Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. Happily, many of those ‘lesser’ wines I sampled way back when have become nicely drinkable when revisited today.

After being a big proponent against wines from this vintage, even going as far as blocking people from bringing them to my CLONYC dinners, I can safely say that I think…no, I know time has been gracious to this vintage. Add the best wines of this vintage to the bevy of phenomenal wines we are witness to right here and now, my usual saying of “What a great time to be a Napa Cab lover” takes on even more relevance. Compounded yet again with the fact that many top Cabernets from Napa ‘03 can usually be gotten for a fraction of their release prices and when viewed in the colored glasses of the dreary financial situation we find amongst us, not to mention the ‘hushly spoken of’ overstock of wines due to hit us soon enough, and amazing vintages that ‘keep-a-poppin’, all I can ask is: Are you ready?
Don't miss the train!

2003 Gemstone Yountville (USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville)

What a beautiful wine. This is still dark and ominous. The nose starts out all creme de cassis and black cherries. A super elegant plushness is really in control here. Fully resolved and firing on every cylinder this has it just maxes itself out for your benefit. Black fruits of currant, black berries and black cherries, there is a phenomenal balance to this: it had perfect acidity for a meal of wild boar, couscous with a blackberry reduction sauce. Pure and focused with style and pizazz, this is just amazing tonight. After about an hout this went to the red fruit side with cherries ruling. Even the color changed for the redder. Interesting indeed. A long and pure finish really ends the show here. I have not had this one in about 5 years, and it has really became something special. 95 pts